|VAN DYKE: Protector of the public?|
Come Sept. 5, the Cook County courts will finally get around to holding the trial that will decide the fate of officer Jason Van Dyke – the man who got captured on crude video firing 16 shots into the body of a 17-year-old who may, or may not, have been acting irrationally.
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THERE’S NO DOUBT that Van Dyke fired the shots that killed Laquan McDonald. The issue in this trial is going to be whether his actions were justified as part of his duties “to serve and protect” the people of Chicago.
Which is going to be a judgment call. It’s clear that no matter what, the public perspective will be such that Chicago will be seriously split. This verdict is going to leave the populace of Chicago seriously p-o’ed.
For every single person determined to believe this is an instance of a police officer committing cold-blooded murder, there’s going to be another individual wanting to believe that McDonald got what he deserved – and that perhaps we ought to be thinking of giving him a medal.
A concept that will seriously offend those who have been outspoken in their rhetoric that Van Dyke belongs in prison. They probably won’t be happy until they hear word that “inmate” Van Dyke was assaulted by fellow inmates while in prison.
THESE FACTIONS OF people are going to be going at each other once the trial gets underway. Which means we ought to regard the next few weeks of August as being the calm before the storm.
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Before the sides start going at each other with full force. Before the rhetoric gets ultra-ugly, and before things get said and done that manage to bring embarrassment to the public perception of Chicago.
I say full force because we got a little taste of what will be forthcoming this very weekend.
It was the Bud Billiken Parade, and the parade’s co-grand marshal, rap singer Vic Mensa, managed to ruffle the sensibilities of police. Mensa on Saturday carried a “Convict Jason Van Dyke” banner. Police officers on duty to maintain order during the parade gathered around him.
WORDS WERE SPOKEN between the two sides, and Mensa at one point taunted the police to arrest him. Daring them to make a national story out of the event by taking him into custody!
Police maintained enough professional restraint to avoid escalating the incident. But it is likely once the trial gets underway and we begin getting the daily dribble of testimony, we’re likely to learn something that offends the public sensibility to the point the outbursts will get out of control.
I’m not making a judgment, as the outburst could easily come from either side of those in our society who are going to take offense.
It could easily come from those people who are offended by the testimony that will be presented in the form of animation.
FOR IT SEEMS that the Van Dyke legal defense team wants to give us a very technical version of what happened – depicting some 5 of the 16 shots, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
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Perhaps they think that an overly technical visual version of what happened will somehow make the incident seem less offensive and brutal.
Which is a concept that will offend those inclined to believe the worst about police and their brutality towards the people, particularly the segment that could never be described as Anglo in complexion.
I don’t know if it will become (I hope it doesn’t turn out to be) a race riot. But I suspect the next few months will provide anecdotes that will embarrass our city’s public perception – and we’ll all be very grateful come the arrival of 2019.