Thursday, November 26, 2015

It seems like it’s everywhere, that video of the final moments of Laquan’s life

I literally couldn’t escape it late Tuesday.

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When I finally broke down and used my laptop computer to check out the website to see the full video of what is purported to be the death of a black teenage boy at the hands of a white Chicago police officer, I literally got to the “money shot,” the moment of truth – so to speak.

WHEN I HAPPENED to look up at a television set that was turned on, only to see that the BBC was also reporting the story and was showing the exact same shot to their international television viewing audience.

This story has gone global! Chicago’s outrage, or shame – depending on how you want to perceive it – is international.

It probably is a good thing I had the BBC oversight to point out the key moment of the video – because I have to confess that I missed it initially.

The fact is that this video, shot by a camera installed on the dashboard of a Chicago police squad car, is perfect evidence of how pictures can lie. Because it is raw video meant to be unedited, it is lengthy.

ACTUALLY, THE VIDEO I saw was more than six minutes long – although only the final minute or so is relevant to the death of Laquan McDonald.

What most of the video consists of is the sight of the squad car containing the officers racing to the scene, so to speak. We see reflections of the lights atop their squad car flashing and also get the sight of other motorists pulling to the side of the road to make way for this particular squad car.

My gut reaction to watching this was something along the lines of “What’s the point?!?”

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Then suddenly, we come upon a figure walking in the middle of the street for a few seconds before collapsing. That figure, it turns out, is McDonald. Although my initial thought was that it was a staggering drunk.

YOU DO GET the sight of the body twitching a bit, and at one point a puff of what appears to be smoke coming up from the body.

But keep in mind there’s no audio. Unless you’ve been told in advance what to expect, it’s not clear what is happening here.

That may be the key to comprehending the significance of the video that provoked protests Tuesday night and still has officials fearing the potential of a race riot in Chicago in coming days.

You really have to have someone explain to you what it is you’re watching. Which means this video will merely reinforce the beliefs one already has. And I already can envision the many people who will take this vagueness as evidence that there isn’t any criminality taking place here.

BECAUSE THEY WON’T want to believe a police officer could do wrong – or maybe they just really want to believe that a black teenager would!

The shock to me about this video is that I was expecting the sight of a police officer actually shooting somebody. The officers at this scene were all out of range of the camera – only McDonald is seen throughout.

Except for one point when an officer steps into the view of the camera to kick away from McDonald’s now-likely dead hand the knife he was holding – the weapon that police initially tried to claim was evidence he was a danger to them.

Although the video also shows that McDonald never charged at officers like was originally claimed – and in fact was trying to get away from them!

WHICH I’M SURE law enforcement-oriented types will claim is evidence enough he was doing something wrong. The same types who were eager to donate money to a legal defense fund for the officer now being held at Cook County Jail without bond on a murder charge – and probably think it unfair that some people are criticizing their support.

My point is that for all the promises of a pretty gruesome video that would be offensive to the sensibilities of the general public, this one actually doesn’t produce. For a generation raised on violent graphics in video games, this is going to be so tame.

Except to the type of people who were looking for an excuse to riot to begin with. And those people who have their illegally-owned weapons stored away in their homes in anticipation of the day in which “those people” started trouble.

On this Thanksgiving, we ought to be wishing we could be as far away as possible from these loons of both persuasions.


EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s my understanding that WLS-TV, the ABC-owned Chicago television station, was leaked a copy of the video prior to its official release Tuesday night, and that their version was edited into something shorter – perhaps to enhance its potential for graphic detail. Perhaps this is a video that needs subtitles to bolster its comprehension level.

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