Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Regime Change - Chicago: Murder and Cover-Ups in High Places

Regime Change - Chicago: Cover-ups In Police Murder Requires Resignation of Chicago Mayor Emanuel

by Linn Washington - This Can't Be Happening

December 2, 2015

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a bold yet belated move when he fired his embattled police superintendent in the wake of a national uproar surrounding the release of a chilling video that captured the police killing of a teen.

Included in that uproar is anger over mounting evidence of a cover-up connected to the flawed shooting graphically displayed on that video. Political and civic leaders in Chicago had demanded the removal of Chicago top cop Garry McCarthy months before Emanuel's uproar triggered ouster.

If Mayor Emanuel is really serious about his stated desire to rebuild “public trust” he needs to do two other things and do those two things quickly.

The first thing Emanuel needs to do is issue a strong public rebuke of Chicago’s top prosecutor, Anita Alvarez.

This prosecutor dragged her feet for over a year on indicting the policeman shown in that video firing 16-shots into Laquan McDonald. That police video clearly shows the 17-year-old McDonald walking away from police not lurching towards officers as Chicago’s Police Department and its police union had maintained falsely since McDonald’s fatal shooting in October 2014.

Alvarez did not charge Officer Jason Van Dyke with murder until after the release of the police video that captured McDonald’s wrongful death. Mayor Emanuel had fought against release of that video claiming it would undermine ongoing investigations into McDonald’s death – a stance Alvarez embraced as her explanation for not filing charges against Van Dyke earlier.

Hispanic leaders in Chicago – political and civic – are among those calling for the resignation of Alvarez, the first Hispanic to hold that post in Chicago.

The second thing Emanuel needs to do is resign. The mounting evidence of a multi-layer cover-up surrounding the killing of McDonald includes actions by Emmanuel.

Chicago’s mayor contends he did not view the McDonald murder video until hours before its release – a release ordered by a Chicago judge over Emmanuel’s objection. Yet, months ago Emanuel approved a $5-million payout to McDonald’s estranged family. Emanuel authorized that payout before that family even filed a lawsuit.

If Emanuel approved that payout without seeing the video that contradicted the official ‘justified shooting’ posture of his Police Department then he was irresponsible with the purse strings of cash-strapped Chicago.

If Emanuel was aware of the contents of that video and approved the payout that occurred at the time of his struggle to beat back a strong electoral challenge to unseat him then that payout is arguably a payoff to lessen public uproar over the true details of McDonald’s death. Withholding that video helped Emanuel win reelection.

Emanuel’s actions/inactions in the McDonald matter, rather through his irresponsible mismanaging of Chicago’s money or through mendacious efforts to maintain his post as mayor, have displayed convincing evidence that Chicago’s Mayor and former Chief of Staff to President Obama is unfit to hold elected office.

Shortly before Emanuel sacked top cop McCarthy from his $260,000 salary post, the Mayor announced formation of a task force to review all aspects of the Chicago Police Department – a police force with a decades long history of brutality and corruption.

If the announced task force review is not a ploy to provide political cover for Emanuel, why didn’t the Mayor set up a task force earlier this year in the wake of news reports that Chicago paid out $521-million between 2004-2014 due to police misconduct that ranged from false arrests to excessive force? Misconduct by Chicago police cost $50-million in 2014 – a sum that news reports stated totaled more than the combined budgets of Chicago’s mayor office, city treasurer office, city council and its department of human services.

Why didn’t Emanuel establish a review in September 2013 when he made an unprecedented apology for a two-decades long reign of torture and terror by a secret unit inside the CPD that cost the city over $85-million in payouts to victims – some of whom spent years on death row falsely?

Payouts for police misconduct have real-time consequences for cash-strapped Chicago. In 2012 Mayor Emanuel cited lack of funds as justification for his closure of six mental health clinics in low-income areas. In 2013 Emanuel cited lack of funds as justification for his closure of 4 public schools in low-income areas. The closures of those clinics and schools have had adverse impacts on the communities where they were located. Some in Chicago track increases in crime to the closures of the mental health clinics.

The same Mayor Emanuel who cuts needed services for the neediest citizens of his city is the same mayor who presides over the payments of multi-million dollar settlements in police misconduct cases where the offending police keep their jobs. Officer Van Dyke who is now facing murder charges for killing McDonald had over a dozen brutality complaints lodged against him that included a $350,000 payout and the $5-million payout to McDonald’s family.

The cost of payouts in police misconduct cases does not include the tens of millions of dollars Chicago has paid to private law firms to fight those police abuse cases ($63-million from 2002-2012 according to news reports). And that payout figure does not include the continued salaries of the police officers cited in lawsuits for brutality but still kept on the CPD payroll.

The Chicago police killing of Laquan McDonald again dramatizes the duplicity and complicity surrounding unjustified police brutality that extends from patrol officers to the highest reaches of government.

Chicago has an epidemic of civilians murdering each other and a low rate of police solving those murders. Now ousted Chicago top cop McCarthy once declared that the biggest reason for why so few of Chicago’s murders are solved is the “no-snitch” code of silence among residents in too many communities.

Top cops like McCarthy rarely address the Code of Silence operative in police forces across America. That police "snitch code"e is on display in the McDonald shooting case. Over six officers at the scene of McDonald’s shooting followed the Code of Silence when they filed reports falsely stating that McDonald lunged at Van Dyke thus certifying McDonald’s wrongful death as justified -- and when they reportedly chased eye-witnesses from the scene after the shooting, instead of taking down their names as witnesses, as they should have done.

Those officers that filed false reports supporting Van Dyke’s killing violated Illinois law on accomplice liability. According to that law, knowingly assisting or helping someone commit a crime –- before, during or after the crime –- is an offense punishable with imprisonment.

Chicago top prosecutor Alvarez has yet to arrest any of those law-breaking law enforcers who aided and abetted Van Dyke’s [alleged] crime. This inaction by Alvarez evidences duplicity in the form of double standards of justice: one standard for errant cops another standard for errant civilians.

Chicago is definitely in need of ‘regime change’ beginning with the removal of Mayor Emanuel and prosecutor Alvarez.

It is pathetic that the same politicians, presidential candidates, pundits and preachers that loudly demand ‘regime change’ in places like Syria remain silent on crimes against humanity in Chicago.

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