Aug 22, 2016
Two years after Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, Superintendent Eddie Johnson finally announced plans to try to fire seven cops for lying about the shooting in official reports.
The video of the shooting shows plainly that McDonald was walking away from Van Dyke when the cop jumped out of his car and immediately opened fire, continuing to pour bullets into McDonald as he lay dying on the ground. Van Dyke openly lied that McDonald was advancing on him, and several other cops filed reports backing him up, claiming McDonald was attacking Van Dyke and another cop when Van Dyke shot him.
So yes, these lying cops deserve to be fired – they covered up a murder. But the cover-up doesn’t stop with these cops.
After McDonald was killed, the Chicago Police Department tried to hide the video of the killing. It only came out – more than a year after the shooting – because journalist Brandon Smith smelled a rat and wouldn’t let it go, working for more than a year to finally force the city to release the video. Not only did the whole police hierarchy know they had murderers and accessories to murder on the force – so did Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who sent a series of e-mails trying to figure out how to keep the cover-up going.
Once the video was finally released for all to see, protests began and the U.S. Justice Department started an investigation into the Chicago Police Department. Then Emanuel and his political cronies scrambled to cover their butts, firing the police chief, trying to make a show of changing the police review board, indicting Jason Van Dyke for murder, and finally proposing to fire these seven police officers.
But even if these seven cops are fired, it’s clear that nothing has actually changed. On July 28, another Chicago police officer shot Paul O’Neal in the back, killing him as he was fleeing from a stolen car. Police body camera videos show everything leading up to the shooting – but they were mysteriously turned off for the shooting itself. As O’Neal lay dying, one of the cops on the scene told the other officers to turn off their body cameras, and said – “he shot at us first, right?” – even though O’Neal did not have a gun and fired no shots. Police Superintendent Johnson has stripped these cops of their police powers, for now, but so what?
Even if these higher-ups are willing to throw a few individual police officers under the bus, THEY are the problem. They are the ones who set policy. They are the ones who maintain and run this whole racist system, that offers nothing to huge numbers of young people but prison, if not death, at the hands of the police. Firing a few cops two years after the fact doesn’t change that at all.