Jan 23, 2017
The U.S. Justice Department issued a report that peeled the lid back on some of the brutality of the Chicago Police Department. According to this report, “officers use unnecessary and unreasonable force in violation of the Constitution with frequency, and the unconstitutional force has been historically tolerated by CPD.”
This “pattern or practice of unreasonable force” includes “shooting at fleeing suspects,” “firing at vehicles without justification,” “the use of excessive less-lethal force against people who present no threat,” and “the use of excessive less-lethal force against children.” And the police who carried out this violence faced few if any consequences.
The report lists one “unnecessary” shooting after another by the cops. It describes “less-lethal force” that included tasering an unarmed, naked 65-year old woman suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The report includes numerous instances when Chicago cops used “pain compliance techniques” against people who were no kind of threat.
The Justice Department also revealed that Chicago cops take young people to rival neighborhoods and display them to known gang members, before leaving them to somehow get home.
And who can be surprised that the Justice Department found Chicago police regularly use racial slurs against young black people? They call them “animals,” “monkeys,” and worse. A cop reported that many of his fellow officers patrol black neighborhoods “like it’s a safari.”
The Justice Department report argues that better training and accountability are the answer. But who can believe that? For more than a century, report after report from the Justice Department or some other body has come out every few years calling for reform of the Chicago Police Department. But the brutality and violence of the police continue.
This is because the job of the Chicago police – just as those in other cities – has always been to control people in the poorest neighborhoods, not to stop crime. Their job is to maintain order, and their main tool to do so is violence. And this violence of the police just adds to the terror of violence and poverty in the poorest, mostly black neighborhoods of the city.
One young man quoted in the report summed it up: “they patrol our streets like they are the dog catchers and we are the dogs.”
But dogs can bite back.