Tuesday, August 30, 2016

When it comes to law enforcement, some things change while others do not

Che Smith, the rap music star also known as “Rhymefest,” got mugged this weekend. He was, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Saturday when someone pulled out a pistol and demanded his valuables. 

Sad to say, this is not unique. There is crime in Chicago. Heck, there is crime everywhere.

AND AS THE Sun-Times pointed out, police at the Grand Crossing district stationhouse weren’t all that sympathetic.

Smith actually pulled out his cellphone and used it to shoot crude video of himself being rejected by police. They didn’t even want to take his complaint.

Although to be honest, I wonder how much of their reluctance to do anything was provoked by Smith’s own action of insisting on using a cellphone to shoot video of them in action.

Or should I say, inaction?

LET’S NOT FORGET there was once a time when police could claim that a crime was being committed by anyone who dared to try to shoot video of them without their explicit approval in advance.

There are still people who feel that it is wrong to pull out the video cameras and train them on police. After all, they want to think we shouldn’t be scrutinizing every single move that a law enforcement officer makes.

Similar to former Mayor Richard M. Daley who once talked about being “scrootened.” We could laugh about that. Although this latest action is less humorous.

In this particular incident, Smith used Twitter and his account to publish a few blurbs talking about his treatment by police, while also making public his video of them doing nothing.

WHICH ACTUALLY HAD the effect of creating what is the unique aspect of this incident.

Chicago Police officials felt enough shame over their refusal to do anything that they actually issued an apology to Smith. According to the Sun-Times’ reports on Monday, detectives began investigating the early Saturday incident.

Which amounted to the theft of a wallet. Which police supposedly thought was questionable that the “thief” didn’t take his cellphone as well? As in the cellphone he used to shoot video of them doing nothing more than telling him to turn off that phone.

Of course, it usually works out that a bit of public shame can inspire people to do the right thing – however reluctant they were to act initially.

BUT I HAVE to admit that in the three decades that I have, off-and-on, followed police activity in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, it is rare that a public apology is issued. Usually, a mistake of sorts is followed up by a silence in hopes that by saying nothing more, the problem goes away.

After all, saying something else could just lead to putting one’s foot even deeper into the doo-doo.

But the idea that police don’t always promptly respond to reports of incidents shouldn’t be a shock. Perhaps they were busy that night? Or maybe they just didn’t want to be bothered? Who knows!

It kind of reminds me of an incident I saw some 30 years ago back when I was with the now-defunct City News Bureau and was hanging out one Saturday afternoon at the police station at Grand and Central avenues on the Northwest Side.

A MAN WHO, based on his demeanor and mannerisms, may have been homosexual wanted to report the fact that he was mugged that day. Only to get such a barrage of harassing questions that the man wound up leaving the station house without filing a report.

He also forgot to take his umbrella, which caused the cop to shout out after him, “Don’t you want your fairy wand?”

I’m sure that man, whom I never saw nor heard from again in my life, felt just as demeaned as Smith did this weekend.

And likely is still waiting for an apology – fat chance that it will ever come!


No comments: