Saturday, July 20, 2013

Conspiracy theory, or element of truth?

DAVIS: Clueless? Or Blunt-spoken?
Throughout the decades that Monique Davis has represented portions of the Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods in the Illinois House of Representatives, she has made many comments that have been interpreted by some as absurd, if not downright loopy!

But I have always tried to keep in mind the fact that we in this society are not all alike. We don’t look alike. We certainly don’t think alike. The people who voted her into office probably have no problem with her.

SO WHILE MANY people these days are jumping down Davis’ throat for her latest theory (telling a Detroit radio station that many people in her community think the police might have something to do with all the urban violence taking place against young people these days), I’m wondering if she’s on to something.

Davis gave her interview to WCHB-AM in Detroit on Tuesday when she said: “I’m going to tell you what some suspicions have been, and people have whispered to me; they’re not sure that black people are shooting all of these children. There’s some suspicion – and I don’t want to spread this, but I’m just going to tell you what I’ve been hearing – they suspect maybe the police are killing some of these kids.”

WBBM-AM found out about this, and tracked Davis down, reporting Friday her admission that she doesn’t know who is doing the killings, but not exactly denying that she thinks the police could be responsible in some way. On Friday, Davis held a press conference to say that some police officers are among her friends, and reiterated the thought that she doesn't know who killed anyone.

They also gave the Chicago Police Department a chance to respond – finding a spokesman who came up with a comment that technically is a “no comment,” but also makes it clear that the police resent any implication that they’re anything other than heroic in their behavior.

WHAT THIS ISSUE really comes down to is a matter of just how much faith one has in the concept of law enforcement in general – Protectors of the Public? Or Municipal Muscle, meant to keep in line those people whom officials want to pipe down?

Those who believe the former are going to be amongst Davis’ biggest detractors. They’re not going to want to hear any kind of talk that implies police are a problem.

The most hard core of those individuals are the ones who still try to defend one-time Pullman Area police Commander Jon Burge – claiming that the criminal element he was dealing with required the hard-fisted approach that he took toward defendants who later were found to be innocent victims.

I’m sure that particular element is a minority of the overall population. The general trust of police is a larger element.

BUT WE SHOULDN’T discount the fact that there is a sizable number of people who are skeptical of law enforcement authority. Some of them may well have theories that the police are, if not killing young black people, sitting back and doing nothing to try to control the high-crime rates in urban areas.

As for those who may well think there are police going around killing black people, put them at the far opposite end of the ideological train of thought that thinks Jon Burge some sort of victim, and a miscarriage of justice.

Personally, I have never bought into the idea of police as particularly heroic. I’m more inclined to think that the overwhelming majority of police are just human beings – no smarter or dumber than you or I.

Except that they do a particularly difficult job where, if something goes wrong, people can die.

SO IF WE view Davis’ thoughts of a reflection of what is being expressed by the community (or at least a segment of it), perhaps we’d see a lesson in all of this.

Perhaps the police reaction would be to realize they have a perception problem, rather than getting all huffy and hostile toward anyone who doesn’t worship their presence.


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