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Police Brutality is a Politically Protected Reality

Submitted to iMWiL! by Africa Jackson

Quick question. Why do cowards get to take sick days off from basic accountability?

Alonzo Smith is one of dozens of Black people subjected to blatant torture by police under Richard Daley’s watch. He filed a lawsuit in 2016 because the ‘enhanced interrogation’ tactics officers used on him more than 20 years ago lead to false imprisonment. Tot detectives, (John Byrne and Peter Dignan), viciously beat Smith and repeatedly suffocated him by putting a plastic bag over his head until he finally told them what they wanted to hear.

While Daley was serving as the Cook County State’s attorney, the medical director (Dr. John Raba, Cermak Health Services) reached out to Daley, but Daley ignored the findings. Dr. Raba explained to Daley that men had been burned on radiators and that their genitals were mutilated by officers. This is part of Daley’s legacy.

Police brutality victims who suffered a level of torture banned by the Geneva Convention are probably wondering why former Mayor Richard Daley can get out of testifying about his role in Chicago’s history of police brutality. Last week, a judge allowed Daley to miss his deposition due to illness. This move to shirk responsibility is not new, though. Former Mayor Richard Daley has a history of willful ignorance dodging admissions of guilt in flagrant cases of police brutality in Chicago. Back in 2014, he pulled the same stunt and claimed that he was too sick to testify after being subpoenaed. His lawyers argued that getting involved would make it a hardship on him…the same way campus rapists are set free because being in jail would be a hardship for them.

During the height of the crack epidemic that rocked the entire Black community in the 80s and 90s, Daley catapulted his pattern of indifference towards Black lives by getting involved in police corruption.

Daley was aware of the cruelty Chicago Police Department showed Black suspects. Even after being directly informed that his officers in Chicago were using extreme torture tactics like electric shock and severe beatings, he turned a blind eye. More than 100 Black victims suffered at the hands of cops who have yet to answer for their crimes. Some of them were children. Can you imagine that? Black children were routinely robbed of justice under Daley’s watch. Had a white child been subjected to torture by Black police officers–or by anyone for that matter–there would be nonstop media coverage. Race clearly plays a role in the media’s lack of coverage because despite the massive number of Black victims who face lifelong trauma, one white man’s alleged cough is enough to prevent justice. One of the victims, Michael Tillman, was awarded a settlement two decades after he was savagely beaten by officers, but there is still no accountability. That money won’t reverse the damage and the amount is not commensurate with the pain Tillman and his family have to relive. Daley has been giving justice the cold shoulder ever since, but he is certainly not the only one.

Just last week, a bunch of Chicago Police Officers got away with their crimes because there was a data error in their favor…and they got to collect money for their salaries. They are benefitting from a real-life game of Monopoly. And as a general practice, officers accused of excessive force or wrongful death get paid administrative leave. Politicians like Daley perpetuate the cycle of violence by prioritizing the comfort of cops over the safety of citizens. According to activist and organic intellectual Janae Bonsu of @BYP_100, 40% of Chicago budget goes to policing. Forty percent. In a world where Chicago’s public schools and youth programs are teetering on extinction, it is fiscally and morally irresponsible to spend that much of an organization that so clearly lacks compassion. That speaks volumes about why the city is in its current position.

Since the 2016 president election campaign, people have been quick to say that Chicago is violent and out of control. Activists understand that this is just one of the first phases in the process of gentrification and general disenfranchisement, but on face it can appear to be a call for peace. Sources like President Donald Trump and Newsweek have cited fear mongering accounts of the unprecedented gang-related wars erupting in the streets. What about the real criminals who systematically terrorize and deplete human resources from Black and Brown communities in Chicago? From 2010-2015, police fired more than 2,623 bullets and killed 92 people–four out of five of those shooting victims were Black. Politicians have claimed that more than 80% of Chicago’s violence comes from “gang activity”, but how do we know what percentage to attribute to police? If the officers considered the people they shot to be ‘gang affiliated’, do those deaths get lumped into the homicides from gang violence? In 2016, the Independent Police Review a Authority reported more than three dozen police firearm discharges. That’s about 1 discharge per week week and that’s foes take into account the other forms of police brutality like excessive force, sexual misconduct, or neglect. Mayor Daley’s prominence is indicative of white supremacy. The fact that he may get away with all of this shows just how insidious anti-Blackness truly is. According to a 2017 investigation by the Department of Justice, evidence clearly shows that the Chicago Police Department is punctuated at every level by racism, poor training, and general misconduct.

The name Daley is synonymous with corruption.

Daley’s ‘Hired Truck Program’ is an example of his lack of ethics. In 2004, he claimed to be helping the community with a $40 million hired truck company. The Chicago Sun-Times revealed that some truck companies under Daley’s project were paid without working. Thirty percent of those involved in the companies in the program hd their licenses revoked. In 2005 he was investigated for pervasive fraud when he was linked to a $48 million overrun. The following year, he was associated with 30 indictments including a subpoena to discuss bribe deals. Daley is also credited with defunding pensions according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Daley’s dishonesty knows no bounds. In 2004, he used taxpayer money to have a 25-officer personal detail that included family members. Those officers ran errands and picked up his children at school like an armed version of The Help. According to the Chicago Times, Daley’s nephew (a classic nepotism hire) killed a man and fled from the scene of the crime—I suppose cowardice is just part of the Daley DNA.

The system is unbalanced. The combination of white supremacy and neo-liberalism keep problematic people in office despite blatant, repeated wrongdoing. Specifically, the former mayor of these racist perpetrators, Daley, is trying to call out sick rather than face his deposition for the role he played in the torture of an alarming number of Chicago citizens at the hands of the Chicago Police Department.

Why is a 23-year-old rapper doing more for the City of Chicago than the people in office who are paid to do the job? (So much love to Chance The Rapper for that much-needed work). He wants to clean up the streets so his daughter has somewhere to play. Unlike Former Mayor Daley and other politicians, Lil Chano from 7th is invested in the people of Chicago. He is not a coward.

In January, I wrote a piece warning about Daley’s habit of evading responsibility when it comes to police brutality. It is only with our persistent push that he will have to face responsibility.

Daley is reverting to his old tricks. Back in 2012, he was supposed to discuss the police torture of Michael Tillman, but he straight up refused. It was only with the public pressure of people like you the deposition became a possibility. That same strategy of unyielding pressure must be applied now if we want Daley to be held accountable for police torture. Activists, attorneys, and regular citizens have worked so hard to make sure Daley testifies at this deposition and we cannot let their struggle be in vain.

It is absolutely imperative that we act now. The victims of his policies deserve justice. The officers in question have to answer for their crimes.

Here are three things we can do RIGHT NOW and everyday leading up to the deposition:

  1. Demand action from Daley. Every day leading up to the deposition, we can pressure the former mayor to stand up for what’s right. These depositions generally go unnoticed. Politicians get away with saying “I don’t recall” when asked about instances of police brutality. Public pressure is essential. The deposition was scheduled for January 17th, but Daley keeps backing out. Advocates can call his office directly: 312–744–5000 to demand that he testify. If you are physically in Chicago, dial 311. Letters can be sent to City Hall: 121 N. LaSalle Street Chicago, Illinois 60602.
  2. Advocate for transparency. The only way to hold Daley accountable is to make the videotaped deposition accessible by the public. How else will we know whether he truly wishes to stop unarmed people from being killed by police? Call and visit the state senator’s office: 2929 S Wabash Ave Ste 102, Chicago, IL 6061; 312–949–1908. You can also tweet to the State Senator, Mattie Hunter: @SenatorHunter.
  3. Be a Civil Rights Troll on social media. You’re going to tweet, snap, and post anyway. Might as well donate some of that time to calling out cowards. Commit to 10 tweets a day or 20 reposts a day. Just set a goal and hit it. Encourage your friends to do the same. Include photos of Daley in perfect health and boost others’ posts calling him out. Tag Chance The Rapper, Perry W. Green III, #ChiStops, #ChiCopWatch, Janae Bonsu, and other Chicago based activists and/or movements.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve is also complicit in this betrayal of justice since she decided to grant an order to conceal the very important specifics surrounding the so-called illness. State Senator Dan Duffy (R-26th District) has also played a significant part. Duffy advocated to de-fund a commission to investigate police brutality in Chicago, noting that it was a waste of time. It’s not too late for us to act. He has been avoiding this day for years and we have the power to change that. This is not just about making a few phone calls one day. This is about being vigilant. We have the agency to hold these people accountable. One one hand, Daley denounces police brutality, but on the other he allows that brutality to exist and refuses to take responsibility for his actions.

So what do I have to say about Mayor Daley’s “undisclosed medical issue”? The same thing my supervisor would say to me if I tried to call into work: I want to see the documentation and you’re still expected to finish your work.

If you need help drafting a letter or writing a script for a voicemail, please tag me on twitter: @AfricaJwrites. You can join our virtual phone bank as well. Take your anger and use it. You can start with the people listed below:

STATE SENATOR DAN DUFFY

District Office 111 North Avenue, Suite 211 Barrington, IL 60010

847-277-7100

(fax) 847-277-7101

Springfield 108B State House Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8010

(fax) 217-782-4243

dan@senatorduffy.com

JUDGE AMY ST. EVE

(phone) 312-435-5686

(fax) 312-554-8477

Dates Not Hearing Motions

Tuesday, March 28, 2017; Tuesday, April 11, 2017; Wednesday, April 19, 2017; Wednesday, April 26, 2017 through and including Wednesday, May 3, 2017.

TERRENCE BURNS

Attorney for Richard Daley

Dykema Law Firm

312-627-2172

tburns@dykema.com

Facebook: Dykema Law Firm

Twitter: Dykema

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