It’s not exactly rocket science that the Justice Department is policing the police in Chicago – that is its function in the federal system of governance. Subjectively, the POTUS is a Chicagoan through and through despite writing about his experiences growing up in Hawaii, Indonesia and back in Eagle Rock, California, before transferring to Columbia University in New York and taking a $15,000 a year job in Chicago as a community organizer (I hope my guy Hustle at Hip Hop Caucus makes five times that, for real). When Barack appointed Loretta Lynch as attorney general, of course Justice Department would want to come down on CPD extra hard. That’s just human nature of political variety. In reality, how does one actually come down on police – you know, the people some of you call “pigs” or “jake” or “five-oh” – other than words, when the police have power?
The answer is nuanced. I can think of several, quite different calibered reasons why going against police is a bad idea. But that’s neither here in North Hollywood or Hyde Park in Inglewood or near Englewood, where one of my favorite exes, Tanika, is from. The homicide of Laquan McDonald was abhorrent and unjustified. That this police officer fired 15 times too many and shot to kill is beyond reproach.
As far as facts on the ground are concerned, my point of view is that of a seasoned business journalist who first started reporting news as a police reporter for City News Service. Right there, in the aging press room of the Los Angeles Police Department’s press room, I made ‘beat calls’ to various law enforcement agencies in the Los Angeles basin. After four years of work at CNS I realized that the formula to get the biggest stories was to call the LAPD’s 77th Station and ask how many bodies dropped. This is not hyperbole. Facts on the ground are that violent death happens often in the ‘hood and cops aren’t always at fault. Guns and black rage that turns white hot is.
In any event, that the Justice Department is coming down on Chicago Police Department should have an volatile effect in the media, but it shouldn’t be that way. For one, McDonald’s shooter, Officer Jason Van Dyke is already off the streets and facing prison time with a first-degree murder charge hanging over him since 2015.
As a Ukrainian-American who lost a Gardena/Compton-residing, gang-affiliated friend to a fatal stabbing in high school, I generally see the course of events unfolding differently because I am also a journalist. African-Americans in general — not the entire group, since some have realized it — that the newly announced consent decree was positioned by the Justice Department purposefully to see Barack Hussein Obama off into the sunset. However, the work of Chicago police must go forward, as well. No one’s gutting the department here. There are criminals, thugs, gangsters, wannabes, kids, domestic violence perpetrators who civil members of society need to be separated from. There’s a reason police departments exist and recruit out of the community.
I really hope the Chicago community can embrace its public officials and police officers alike as this consent decree moves forward. And, I’d love to know what Hustle of Hip Hop Caucus thinks, because he’s, you know, from Chi city. S/o to Malik Yusef for the plug. Forever a fan, bro. Love.