People protesting against police violence in Ferguson | Scott Olson/Getty Images via Vox Media, Inc.
Thursday, January 7, 2015 || By Rev. Dr. Regi Ratliff
olice Officers were once known to serve and protect the community. They visited schools, mentored students, delivered food to homeless residents, provided school supplies to neighborhood children and coached little league baseball games.
Although some of these activities still exist in some communities, these good deeds have been overshadowed by lies, deception and cover-up by the same leaders who are supposed to protect us.
Shocking details have emerged from the rank-and-file of the Chicago Police Department, the Cook County Attorney General’s office, and the Mayor of Chicago’s office that should only exist in fictional novels.
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke murders a young Black male, LaQuan McDonald, but was initially excused of his crime by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, because there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute Van Dyke.
Only after the Cook County Court ordered the release of a video that shows Van Dyke executing LaQuan did Emanuel change his rhetoric and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez file first degree murder charges against Van Dyke.
Lies, deception and cover-up have plagued Chicago since Bill Thompson became the Mayor of Chicago in 1915, when he was allegedly supported by Chicago mobster Al Capone. Now, layer after layer of cover-ups in Chicago shows that the corruption has only become much deeper.
From 1972 to 1991, former Chicago Police Officer John Burge tortured more than 100 black males and forced them into confessions. The nation is also aware of the officer-involved murders of Betty Jones and Quintonio LeGrier.
In the 21st Century, black males are still subjected to modern day slavery. This level of institutional slavery is reprehensible and should no longer be tolerated. The indictment of Van Dyke in the murder of 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald is one small step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees this latest rogue cop will be convicted. Van Dyke can easily get off like Cleveland Police Officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, who were not charged in the murder of 12-year- old Tamir Rice. The same goes for Baltimore Police Officer William Porter, who escaped a murder conviction after killing black male Freddie Gray.
According to the Washington Post, a total of 965 American civilians were shot and killed by U.S. Police Officers in 2015, and black unarmed men were six times as likely as whites to be shot dead by police.
Among the victims of the police shootings, 564 were armed with a gun, 281 armed with less threatening weapons such as knives, toy weapons or cutting instruments, and 90 were unarmed, according to a Washington Post report. Only nine percent of the shootings involved unarmed civilians, but they were disproportionately black, according to the Post’s analysis.
Although black men make up only six percent of the U.S. population, they account for 40 percent, or 36, of the unarmed men shot to death by police in 2015. The Post also found that a hugely disproportionate number — three in five — of those killed after exhibiting less threatening behaviour were black or Hispanic.
The killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, exposed the U.S. federal government’s failure to track the use of deadly force by police. This case has also ignited a national debate on excessive use of force by U.S. police and sparked the black civil rights-related Black Lives Matter movement, which has been holding protests across the nation against police killings of black people.
Motivated by the Ferguson shooting, the Washington Post launched a comprehensive project to log every on-duty fatal shooting by U.S. police in 2015. It found that U.S. police nationwide were killing more than twice as many people as the Federal Bureau of Investigation had previously reported. In most cases, the police officers were not indicted for excessive use of force.
In 2015, only 18 officers were indicted as result of the killings, though it nearly tripled the number in the past decade, which averaged five per year. There were 47 such indictments in the years between 2005 to 2014.
There is a great deal of work that police officers across the nation must do to gain the trust of the community. Political leaders holding press conferences to announce new policies is meaningless unless they are actually initiated, especially in the black community. More police officers should be terminated for their heinous acts of violence against the citizens they are charged to protect.
Additional training is needed in dealing with citizens with mental or emotional illness. This population accounted for one-quarter of those who were shot dead by police in 2015. According to the Washington Post, a total of 243 of the police shooting victims were believed to have mental illness or emotional crisis.
In addition to necessary training, Rahm Emanuel must step down as the Mayor of Chicago. He has placed politics over the people. I believe he would have gained more respect from the citizens of Chicago had he approved the McDonald video release instead of being forced to do so. Emanuel is one of the main reasons why the City of Chicago is out of control at this time.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez must also step down. Her decisions not to prosecute police officers who continues to murder our young black males shows that she is incapable of making the hard decisions.
The citizens of Chicago must vote! The citizens should be fed up with the lies, deception and cover-up by Emanuel, Alvarez, and the Independent Police Review Authority. There not only should be an overhaul of a corrupt system, but an overhaul of the leadership supporting that system. VFP
Reverend Regi Ratliff is the Founder and Executive Director of Eternal Light Community Services, located at 200 S. Fifth Avenue in Maywood. Eternal Light provides the following programs:public speaking, financial literacy, health and wellness, and entrepreneurship classes to youth, ages 5-18.
Contact Rev. Ratliff at (708) 813-4722 to register your child for one of our programs today.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Village Free Press.