I needed some time to process before posting this one. What do you say about a monumental shift that rocks an entire city?
The entire city held it's collective breath as we waited for the verdict in the Jason Van Dyke trial. So many fears were resting on the history of the city.
In Chicago, the Chicago Police Department has a history of violating the civil rights of young black men, without fear of consequence. In this city, bad cops don't pay for their crimes. These facts were the backdrop of the case, and these facts are why this case was so especially important.
With video evidence of such an egregious crime, this cop needed to be punished. Minority communities needed to believe that we couldn't be gunned down in the street like dogs by rogue cops; that someone beyond our collective selves believes of our right to equal protection under the law. That we have rights.
And a jury of 9 Chicagoans gave us the justice that so many in the city were hoping for.
GUILTY OF 2ND DEGREE MURDER. GUILTY OF 16 COUNTS OF AGGRAVATED BATTERY WITH A FIREARM
I sat in a conference room with my work team members and colleagues. While our employer encouraged us to get out of dodge (my words-not theirs), I was actually really happy that our team chose to stay and face the verdict together.
Now, let us please get this straight right now, and Natalie Moore put this best on Twitter.
"There's a lot of fear mongering going on over
#VanDykeTrial. Last time Chicago rioted was in 1968. Same fear mongering when #LaquanMcDonald tape was released. Want to know more about Chicago activism? Reposting this from 2015."
Black people are not fucking savages. Black people are not fucking animals. They're not predisposed to crimes, and we are most certainly not less capable than any other group of humans in this city, country, or on planet Earth.
Every time something significant comes around the bend, in Chicago, and the city, police and conservatives sweat that we'll disperse through the city with torches and pitchforks, we disappoint you.
Furthermore, I find it genuinely sad that so few people have proper historical perspective on not only the city in general, but race relations in Chicago and policies that not only intentionally segregated the city, but served to keep African Americans a permanent underclass. These policies include redlining (discrimination in mortgage lending, business lending and general banking practices), restrictive covenants, over-policing, disinvestment in black communities, discrimination in hiring, intentional geographic segregation, unequal sentencing under the law...I could go on for an hour or so, but you get the idea.
If you want to understand how Chicago reached such a pivotal point, you have to understand Jon Burge. You have to understand that Richard J. Daley was an active member of the Irish Hamburg Athletic Club, a group named as instigators in attacks on black Americans during the Chicago race riot of 1919, and he went on to be the Mayor of Chicago for 21 years. You have to understand that the city of Chicago has paid $662 million on police misconduct since 2004, including judgements, settlements and outside legal fees. You have to understand that Laquan McDonald was not an isolated incident, and was surely not the only cover up performed by either the city of Chicago or Chicago Police officers.
The instant I heard the word guilty, my hands slammed down on the wood conference table in front of me. I couldn't believe it. As I soon thereafter posted on Facebook,
"I haven't seen justice of this nature in my lifetime. Need some time to process."
How powerful was it to hear the jury foreman say,
"We the jury find the defendant, Jason Van Dyke, guilty of aggravated battery with a firearm, XX shot."
It took her exactly 118 seconds to recount all 16 charges. That's 98 seconds longer than the full engagement between Van Dyke and McDonald (6 seconds after exiting the car, plus 14 seconds of shooting). Amazing...and sad.
I want to take a moment to talk about the defendant, former officer Jason Van Dyke. Now, I don't believe in dehumanizing people. That's a hallmark of people beneath me. Van Dyke is not a monster. He's not some ethereal thing unknown to us on this Earth. He's a man. A flawed man. Where those flaws emanate from could be anyone's guess. Did he step out of his vehicle with the express intent of killing Laquan McDonald because he knew he could, and had every assurance that he would get away with it? Only he will ever know that. Did he have an unrealistic threat assessment in his head, built upon years of working a stressful job? Perhaps. Was he raised in a home where the "other" was constantly devalued and dehumanized, resulting in him not putting true value in black and brown lives, resulting in a spotty policing recording that culminated in a murder? I don't know.
I do know that ultimately this situation is sad. There are no winners. Everyone has lost. A young man lost his life. Another man has lost his freedom. Both families are devastated, never to be the same again. A potentially larger fissure has been sewn between the minority and police communities. The only positive to pull from this is that justice has been served, and hopefully this is a first step towards a stronger Chicago.
On that same note, allow me to address the Fraternal Order of Police. I already knew that Dean Angelo was a piece of excrement, and had heard through the grapevine that the new FOP president was even worse, but they showed the grossest of colors when they in a matter of hours tripled down on their defense of Jason Van Dyke and this case. He's been deemed as a "bad cop" under the law, and they still wanted to protest his innocence, and to insert partisan politics, decrying the proceedings as a sham. We now know there is no lengths they will go to to protect their "own", even if their own isn't in accordance with the law. That's FOP, for being the scummiest.
Ultimately, I think Sharone Mitchell Jr., Deputy Director of the Illinois Justice Project, offered the best parting shot on this case thus far:
"However you come down on the specific verdict, I think two things are clear.
1) We still have essentially the same system that allowed for this act to be internationally obscured.
2) The panic over riots and heavy handed response speaks to the great divisions in our city" ~ @SharoneILJP
Oh Chicago, one day I hope you love me as much as I love you.
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This post was created on my HP Pavilion x360.