The Chicago police have a well-earned poor reputation, something that could fairly easily be gleaned from the executions of Rekia Boyd or LaQuan McDonald…or perhaps the fact that in early December the city paid out two very large settlements to victims of police murder, one for $3 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the mother of Cedric Chatman who was 17-years-old when killed in 2013, was shot by police while running away; the other for $2.365 million dollars to the family of Darius Pinex who was murdered by police in January of 2011.
You might also think the fact that from 2012-2015 the Chicago police department paid out $210 million in police misconduct cases was cause to assume some pretty big issues in Chicago’s police department.
If you did, well, you thought right. A new Justice Department report on the Chicago Police fully rips off whatever veil was left covering the thuggish practices of cops in the Windy City.
The 164-page report is replete with accusations of racism, brutality and murder of all kinds A story that goes well with the image of a department already shown to have operated a decades-long torture ring and a CIA-style “black site.”
The report found a whole range of things including that “CPD engages in a pattern or practice of force in violation of the Constitution.” The report went on to note that the reason why this was happening were the consistent use of “poor police practices,” saying in part:
“Officers engage in tactically unsound and unnecessary foot pursuits, and that these foot pursuits too often end with officers unreasonably shooting someone—including unarmed individuals. We found that officers shoot at vehicles without justification and in contradiction to CPD policy. We found further that officers exhibit poor discipline when discharging their weapons and engage in tactics that endanger themselves and public safety.”
The report went on to note that the Chicago police often kill people who posed no threat, and detailed some of those incidents including the following one:
“The officer, who fired 16 shots, killing the man, claimed on his force report that the man was armed and the man ‘charged [him] with apparent firearm.’ The officer shot the man during the foot pursuit, and dashboard-camera footage showed that as the unarmed man lay on the ground, the officer fired three shots into his back.”
The report also contains other damning accounts such as this:
“In one incident, officers hit a 16-year-old girl with a baton and then Tasered her after she was asked to leave the school for having a cell phone in violation of school rules.”
The above was listed as one example of how Chicago cops have a “pattern and practice” of using “excessive force” against children.
The report also notes that the so-called accountability processes in the city are completely broken, noting that half of all police misconduct cases are not fully investigated.
You might also not be surprised to know the report found “CPD’s pattern or practice of unreasonable force and systemic deficiencies fall heaviest on the predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods on the South and West Sides of Chicago.”
The report details that:
“of all use-of-force incidents for which race was recorded between January 2011 and April 18, 2016, black individuals were subject to approximately 76% (19,374) of the uses of force, as compared to whites, who represented only 8% (2,007) of the force incidents. In some categories of force, blacks were even more overrepresented: black individuals were the subject of 80% of all CPD firearm uses and 81% of all Taser contact-stun uses during that time period. CPD’s data on force incidents involving youth also showed stark disparities: 83% (3,335) of the incidents involved black children and 14% (552) involved Latino children.”
The disparities are results of clear racism as the following passage demonstrates:
“Black youth told us that they are routinely called ‘ni***r,’ ‘animal,’ or ‘pieces of shit’ by CPD officers. A 19-year-old black male reported that CPD officers called him a “monkey.” Such statements were confirmed by CPD officers. One officer we interviewed told us that he personally has heard co-workers and supervisors refer to black individuals as monkeys, animals, savages, and ‘pieces of s—.’”
The report then goes on to detail a whole range of racist incidents including one where a Black woman was told by a police officer:
“’Fuck you, you fucking ni***r, you should keep your big mouth shut.’ When the woman’s husband told the officer that the officer should not speak that way to the woman, the officer responded: ‘Why? Because she’s pregnant? I don’t care if she’s pregnant. I’ll beat her f—in’ ass too.'”
The report also laid out open and rank bigotry towards the Muslim community and a studied lack of effort in the investigations into the murder of transgendered people.
This report can’t be described as anything other than scathing. Not surprisingly of course City officials didn’t want to take much
responsibility and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel incredibly claimed the report did not actually show widespread misconduct among the police.
Ultimately this report and the investigations into Cleveland, Ferguson and Baltimore have completely destroyed the fallacy that the problems with policing are a few bad apples. The reports have conclusively proven widespread racial bias, intense bigotry against transgendered people, a lack of focus and effort regarding dealing with sexual assaults and rapes, and routine use of both lethal and non-lethal force when not at all necessary. They have also shown clearly that the police routinely violate the law overall and the Constitutional rights of people in particular. They have exposed as a fallacy the existence of any sort of functional oversight mechanisms as well.
In short it proves that the critics of the police are right. It also proves, as the critics have raised, that the problems are institutional not individual. Policing in the United States is rotten to the core, and this report just gives us more evidence of it.