I’m sure the Chicago Police Department has fantasies about being able to put to rest all those people who have spent months complaining (years actually, but it’s only recently we’ve started listening) about the treatment of black people by law enforcement personnel.
Yet anybody who believes that the decision announced Thursday to fire seven police officers because of their connection to the October 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald will in any way ease the tensions that have arisen is living in a serious fantasy-land.
FOR THOSE WITH the short memories, the McDonald shooting death by police is that one captured on a squad car video camera – the one for which officer Jason Van Dyke now faces criminal charges of multiple murder counts and only remains free now because he had friends capable of posting the $1.5 million bail that was set for him.
But police Superintendent Eddie Johnson sent out an e-mail message to police informing them that seven other officers will face the ultimate professional discipline – they’re going to have to relinquish their badge and gun and be reduced to the role of mere mortals.
No longer will they have a special claim to police powers, or the authority to legally carry a weapon for their use in protecting the public from danger.
Although there are those who’d argue that the police themselves are the dangerous element because it is one way too willing to make presumptions based on race about who represents a danger to the public.
JOHNSON SAID HE made his decision to try to terminate the seven officers based on his belief that the statements they made about what happened the night McDonald died from 16 gunshots were not totally truthful.
As if we could have resolved this matter much sooner if those officers had come out and told the truth about what happened between Van Dyke and McDonald.
Yet considering how entrenched the mentality is within law enforcement of an “us versus them” paradigm, I doubt that knowing a few police officers will lose their jobs will pacify anyone.
I already can envision police officers and their supporters claiming that these cops were being sacrificed to try to appease troublemakers, while let’s not forget that the Black Lives Matter movement consists of people who seriously call for the abolishment of law enforcement.
LARGELY BECAUSE THEY mistrust the motives of anyone who would want to be in a position of authority over other individuals.
Trying to claim that letting seven cops go (even though the city’s Inspector General did its own investigation that concluded 10 cops should lose their jobs) will somehow resolve the situation just won’t do.
This attitude we have in our society, the split between police and a portion of the public, goes beyond any one case. It certainly isn’t limited to Chicago – which is why I have always thought those people who try to place blame on Rahm Emanuel are being just a tad absurd.
Heck, a large part of the dynamic that is spurring the presidential campaign of Donald Trump to linger on even though his own actions would totally devastate a lesser candidate is those individuals who want to rant and rage about the need for law and order.
AS IN THE people who will complain the loudest should the day come when Van Dyke is found guilty of murder; the ones who wish they could follow through on Trump’s response to recent rioting in the Milwaukee area by shooting the troublemakers – most of whom in that instance were black people.
And for whom their “bullet” will be the ballot they cast on or before Nov. 8 (if they go early voting) for Trump as president.
Trump has tried to tone down his talk by saying his talk of “law and order” is aimed at black people, who often suffer from the violence. Although it is spoken to white people who want to knee-jerk react to the sight of African-American individuals by lashing out in some violent form.
Until we can overcome that attitude in our society, the only thing that firing a few police officers will accomplish is adding to the ranks of the unemployed.