Saturday, December 6, 2014

The more we change, the more we stay the same. And that is pretty sad!

Protesters gathered both Thursday and Friday at prominent points in downtown Chicago to express their outrage with the fact that a New York police officer managed to avoid indictment, despite being caught on video putting a choke hold on a black man who later died as a result.

In a legal context, the death of Eric Garner is a perfect example of the difference between “homicide” and “murder.” The former is a medical term for any death caused by another human being’s action.

YET PROSECUTORS THIS week in New York determined that the shouting and screaming and other hostilities that occurred between Garner and police Officer Daniel Pantaleo caused the incident to rise to the level by which use of force was justified.

Therefore, no criminal charges!

That is what has activists upset all across the country, including in Chicago. Thursday night saw four people get arrested for misdemeanor charges when the protest they participated in caused traffic on Lake Shore Drive to close.

On Friday, they were to gather on State Street (“that great street”) for another rally. Who’s to say how long they will continue to do so?

THE GARNER INCIDENT may wither away into the past. But at the rate we’re going, it will be a very short period of time before there’s another “male black” (to use police jargon) who winds up getting killed because of a police officer’s actions.

It was just last week that the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the refusal of grand jury to indict the police officer on any charges caused activists in Chicago to camp out at City Hall – literally spending a night outside the mayor’s Fifth Floor office to express their disgust.

We haven’t had violent outbursts in Chicago yet. But just envision if one of these upcoming acts takes place here. When one considers that a person asking a police officer why they’re being questioned can, under certain circumstances, be construed as resistance, it’s just a matter of time before there’s another police-related death in Chicago.

The sad part of all this is that it isn’t the least bit new. In fact, Thursday was the 45th anniversary of when the Chicago police raided the West Side house where the Black Panther Party was located locally.

WHICH MEANS THAT 45 years ago today, we had people outraged over the blatant actions of Chicago police that resulted in the death of Panther party leader Fred Hampton and others with the group.

There were others more than willing to believe the rhetoric that the group was a subversive organization, and would cite the armed conflicts that had burst out between the group and police across the country in the late 1960s.

Then again, there are those who argue the Panthers’ desire to arm black people for “self” protection was because the police themselves were not doing anything to protect those individuals – and may well have been the problem.

Some people might well think that nothing has changed – police still viewing black faces as the problem, and being more willing to use potentially-deadly force.

I HAVE ENOUGH sense to see that in the 21st Century, we’re in a more subtle situation.

Nothing that has happened in recent months is as blatant as the Panther raid, where the FBI provided intelligence they gathered about the Panther headquarters and turned it over to Chicago police – which then carried out the raid that resulted in criminal indictments against 13 law enforcement officials, including of then-State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan.

All of them were ultimately acquitted, although Hanrahan’s desires to someday become mayor withered away and died. In his mind, that may well have been the ultimate punishment!

Although others still feel an injustice was done – a level of discontent felt by some in our society these days who wonder if attitudes will ever change significantly.


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