Laquan McDonald is just another brick in Chicago's wall of silence

Laquan McDonald is just another brick in Chicago's wall of silence

There’s not a lot to be said about the shooting death of Laquan McDonald more than 13 months ago.  He was walking away from police when he was first shot and knocked to the ground.  His prone body was riddled with at least 15 more bullets.

The police initially said that he broke a window on a squad car, then they said he lunged at someone with a knife.  You know the drill.  That was 13 months ago and today, the Chicago police officer who shot Laquan McDonald was charged with 1st Degree Murder.

Laquan McDonald did a lot of things wrong that day.  All of them added up would not have brought Laquan McDonald the death penalty, had he been arrested, tried and convicted.

One Chicago police officer, with 6 seconds to try Laquan McDonald, found him guilty, sentenced him to death and then carried out that execution, all in less than 30 seconds.  The last 30 seconds of Laquan McDonald’s life.

The following appeared in this space back in September under the title, “Black people would be a lot happier if they could just be more Jewish:

Poor black people could end their cycle of poverty and despair, if only they could just be more Jewish. That, at least is one New Yorker’s opinion, my friend, My Sharona.

Don’t hold the New Yorker thing against her, it’s Upstate NY, not NYC.

The discussion snuck up me, like they sometimes do. I try to avoid the political side of life with My Sharona and hubby, Thin Mints (like the Girl Scout cookies), because they are otherwise terrific people.

They’re intelligent, well-educated, fun-loving and socially accepting of all. For reasons that are neither relevant to this story nor clear to me, they are also rabidly anti-Obama, hence my attempted avoidance of all things political.

After regaling the group with what she thinks is the very funny re-telling of my recent interaction with the Lincolnshire (IL) Police Department, my wife commented that it was lucky that I wasn’t black.

From there, things went south in a big way.

Without getting into the nitty gritty of the evening, My Sharona and Thin Mints presented a two-pronged attack. My Sharona bristled at the way blacks play the victim card and she thinks that they should do what the Jews did when they came here. They worked hard and got their children educated.

Then came the “slave card.” “If we can do it, why can’t they? After all, we were once slaves, too.”

Thin Mints focused on the proper response when stopped by the Man. He taught his kids to be respectful and always say, “Yes, sir/ma’am,” no matter how unreasonable the police officer may be.

He also made a point of re-enacting something one should never do. That is, to reach into your pocket and bring your hand out in the shape of a gun. I don’t know who ever did that, but he was adamant about the point, repeating the re-enactment several times.

So adamant, in fact that he lunged out of his chair, towering over me in mine while angrily re-enacting the reaching of the hand thing. He was as animated as anyone I’ve ever seen and for a moment, I thought I saw blood coming out of his ear.

Or, as Mr. Trump would say, from his wherever.

Totally disproving the idea of black people being disproportionately and harassingly stopped by police, Thin Mints said that he sees white kids getting stopped all the time.

It’s worth noting here that My Sharona and Thin Mints live in a predominantly white neighborhood in upstate New York, where it would be highly unusual to see any kid other than a white one get stopped.

There was also something about the President staying out of all things with racial overtones. There’s a common theme among the anti-Obama crowd that a black president should not be allowed to comment on any sort of social injustice that involves black people.

It would probably be the same for a Jewish president, although I’m guessing it would be permissible for a Christian president to rail against the imaginary war on Christianity.

No one seems to mind Mike Huckabee going to bat for a woman (Kim Davis) who refuses to do the job she was elected to do because it would include people doing things that go against her personal, religious beliefs.

Kentucky may be ready for sharia law.

Anyway, it was a lot to chew on and I decided to bite my tongue rather than risk someone bursting a blood vessel and a trip to the ER.

Let me start by blowing your mind.

There is no historical evidence that there were any Jews (not even one) in Egypt during the time described in The Bible. The only historical reference to Jews in or near Egypt puts them in a military garrison about 4,000 years later.

More telling is the fact that there has never been found a single artifact bearing witness to the passage of one to two million Jews wandering around the desert.

There is no evidence as to how the pyramids were built, much less that they were built by Jews.

Don’t get me wrong. If anyone could have done it, it would have been the Jews. They just weren’t there, which in no way diminishes the joy of a three-hour seder.

If you’re one of those who tends to take the Bible literally, you may have to adjust your timeline a bit. You may also want to consider the millions of years dinosaurs had the planet to themselves.

No, the Flintstones was not a documentary.

Ancestors of African-Americans were plucked from their homes and families, unceremoniously crammed into the holds of cargo ships and brought to God’s chosen country to make God’s chosen white cotton farmers wealthy.

Once here, families were torn apart yet again, as slaves were traded and sold off like yet-to-be-invented baseball cards. If one of the landed gentry wished to lay with (fuck) one of his slaves, it didn’t matter if it was someone’s wife or daughter. Or son.

Had we (Jews) actually been slaves, we would have had 5 or 6 millennia to get over it. Plus, once released from that questionable period of slavery, we would have looked like everyone else wandering around the desert.

Slavery here in America is a pretty recent thing and, when freed from bondage black people were still faced with a white America that viewed them as slaves. It wasn’t even until after my bar-mitzvah that black people got the right to vote.

There were no jobs in the South for the recently freed slaves, so it was common for men to migrate north in search of employment. The concept of a black family unit was all but erased from the culture.

Jews, obviously had a different experience. Back in feudal Europe, it was illegal for Jews to own property, that was for the titled and entitled blue bloods. Jews were relegated to the chore of loaning money and keeping records.

Could be that’s how Goldman Sachs got started.

Fleeing Nazi Germany, Jews escaped with whatever was light enough to carry or small enough to shove in their pockets. Some carried violins, while some stuffed diamonds into their pockets and headed for Manhattan’s 47th Street.

They had something to fall back on and they had their families. Their one piece of good fortune was that they landed in a post war America where federal programs funded education, infrastructure and business growth.

At the same time, though black people were still suffering the oppression of Jim Crow laws.

Al Sharpton notwithstanding, being victimized is not a state of mind. Jews have learned to stand up for themselves and for each other. I don’t know why we’re offended when black people do the same, whether it’s Sharpton, Jesse Jackson or President Black Guy.

Which brings us back to my time with one of Lincolnshire’s finest (he was a very nice guy and as professional a cop as you’ll ever meet). I was polite and respectful to the cop and we agreed that we had a certain rapport, even as my situation deteriorated by the minute.

It was easy, though for me to crack wise with the nice police man. I had no expectation that he would shoot or assault me. It doesn’t happen in my neighborhood or to guys like me. We think in terms of legal bills, not bullet holes.

I might not have felt so comfortable had that all occurred on a back road outside Biloxi, Mississippi.

It’s possible that Thin Mints’ kids will behave properly if they’re ever in that situation. Then again, they, too have no expectation of being shot or beaten. Their greatest fear is what their parents are going to do to them when they get home.

You can’t deny that bad things happen to black people any more than you can deny global warming.

Growing up hippie in 1960’s America, many of us feared the police. The actions of the Chicago Police Department during the 1968 Democratic Convention have often been described as a “police riot.”

Growing up black, it’s not unreasonable for one to acquire an overriding fear of the police and, as we all know, fear is a powerful thing. It’s the way the (you fill in the political party) tries to win elections.

Figure out what people are afraid of and tell them it’s the other party’s fault.



So powerful is fear, that it triggers an inexorable response that is hard wired into us at the molecular level for the preservation of our species. It is called the fight or flight response and it can easily override what might otherwise be a more considered response to being stopped by the police.

We all have fears and our response to those fears is meant to keep us alive. Not all of those fears are rational, but you can’t just put them aside.

Let’s say, for example that My Sharona has a fear of motorcycles. It’s possible that some intense cajoling and a couple of Moscow Mules might get her on the back of my bike, but that would be a stretch.

Once the fight or flight thing kicks in, though, there is no reasoning. Adrenaline is pumped into the body and real, physiological changes occur in the brain. It shouldn’t be surprising that people in that circumstance sometimes do dumb things.

Police, on the other hand are trained for those interactions with us dumb people. At least they should be. After all, that is their job.

How we can expect the general population to behave correctly when chatting with the local gendarme when we can’t ensure that our police, supposedly trained for that very situation can be relied upon to do the same.

This is, in no way an indictment of the police. I’m just saying that these interactions are between human beings and, as such are highly unpredictable and un-scriptable.

It’s possible that Thin Mints did not realize that when he lunged at me, he had committed what is described in legal terms as an assault. If he did realize it, he probably regretted it.

He also proved that even the best among us can not always control their reactions to stressful situations. Had he lunged at my uniformed friend in Lincolnshire, IL, Thin Mints might have found himself in a situation that he thought only happened to black people who don’t know how to interact properly with the police.

Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, a lunge like that could make you dead.


Walk a mile in my shoes

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