Thursday, December 31, 2015

Business As Usual Chicago Police Reform

Business As Usual Chicago Police Reform

by Stephen Lendman

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s announced police overhaul plan to stem cop killings and violence smacks of pure subterfuge. Living in Chicago for nearly half a century, I’ve heard numerous horror stories about police misconduct and abuse, several from affected victims. 

Expect meaningless cosmetic changes only, nothing addressing an out-of-control law enforcement culture in Chicago and nationwide, letting cops operate like vigilantes - armed, dangerous, ready to use live fire or other violent tactics indiscriminately with hair-trigger quickness.

Emanuel’s scheme follows the fatal shooting of two Chicago Blacks threatening no one last weekend, along with continued outrage over video footage showing 17-year-old Lanquan McDonald’s extrajudicial execution - another Black youth’s life extinguished, cops knowing they can operate unaccountably, including getting away with cold-blooded murder.

Emanuel’s plan isn’t about changing longstanding business as usual. It’s to create the illusion of altering current practices, hoping public outrage will subside - how possible when the next cop killing or act of brutality can happen any time.

Emanuel’s words rang hollow, saying “(a)ll of us will accept nothing less than complete and total reform of both the system and policing culture here in the city of Chicago.”

“Just because you train that you can use force doesn’t mean you should, and helping officers have that distinction ‒ and the training that goes with it ‒ is essential.”

He praised police authorities for “owning, embracing and publishing one of the most meaningful policy changes in (city) history.”

Police brutality in America is endemic. Studies show cops are likely to be authoritarian and mean-spirited, prone to aggressive acts, preoccupied with dominance, able to assert strength and toughness unaccountably. 

A badge is a license for anything goes, especially in exerting authority over people of color by any means chosen. Jim Crow never died. It evolved to its present form.

America’s criminal injustice system is unaccountably racist - evident in the nation’s gulag prison system. Two-thirds in it are Blacks and Latinos.

Most are nonviolent. Over half are for illicit drug charges. America's most vulnerable are victimized by racism, poverty, judicial unfairness, get tough on crime policies, a guilty unless proved innocent mentality, three strikes and you're out, and bigoted drug laws.

When cops lethally shoot Blacks or Latinos, it’s virtually automatic to blame victims for state-sponsored criminality.

Emanuel saying “we are taking additional steps to create more time and distance in these (violent) situations and other encounters to make environments safe and safer for all” is pure double-talk.

“We will improve communication between officers and individuals to make (future) encounters less confrontational and more conversational,” he added.

Double the number of potentially lethal tasers will be issued, instead of banning this dangerous weapon altogether - in police hands, license for indiscriminate use.

“We want to make sure that our officers…respond appropriately to each individual situation, where force can be the last option, not the first choice,” Emanuel claimed.

His promise to rebuild trust with city residents mocks reality on mean Chicago streets. Black and Latino communities are virtual war zones - willful cop misconduct and criminality standard practice, extrajudicial executions the norm.

Emanuel’s high-minded rhetoric changes nothing. Heading into the new year, things are no different from earlier. Business as usual remains official policy.

Cops in America serve wealth and power interests exclusively, protecting them from beneficial social change.

A peer-reviewed Princeton/Northwestern University report titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens,” using data from 1981 - 2002 said:

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

Policies at all levels of US governance rarely represent the interests of ordinary Americans. Special ones are routinely served.

According to the report, “(w)hen a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.” 

“Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”

When interests of affluent/influential Americans align with ordinary ones, it’s mere coincidence. 

The nation is run by the privileged few for their interests alone. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies serve them exclusively. Equity, justice and other democratic values are pure fantasy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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