Quantcast
Connect with us

Chicago police union stands by cop charged with murdering teen Laquan McDonald

Published

on

The main Chicago police union is standing behind the white officer who was charged this week with first-degree murder for gunning down a black teenager. It is facing a backlash from leaders of the city’s black community as a result.

On its website, the Chicago lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), has posted a bail fund appeal for the officer, Jason Van Dyke, who is accused of shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times just six seconds after emerging from his patrol car on a street in Chicago on Oct. 20, 2014. An earlier link on the FOP’s front page to a GoFundMe campaign was removed after the fundraising site said it violated a policy against its use by criminal defendants.

ADVERTISEMENT

The FOP also is paying the lawyer representing Van Dyke, Daniel Herbert, himself a former FOP member the union pays to represent Chicago cops in misconduct cases. Funding such a defense is a common practice among U.S. police unions.

The FOP’s support for Van Dyke appears to have support within the union, according to email and phone interviews Reuters conducted with a number of white and black active-duty and retired cops, as well as union and black police association officials.

They stopped short of defending Van Dyke’s actions – which were caught in a graphic video made public this week – but did say it was important to place them in the context of a racially divided city beset by violence.

Some of the officers say they are concerned the city’s police force has become a political football and is not getting enough support from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police chief Garry McCarthy. These officers also say the decision by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to charge Van Dyke with first-degree murder, rather than the lesser charge of second-degree murder, was a politically motivated effort to head off outrage about the video.

“First degree is a high bar to set, and of course it’s political,” said one active duty police officer who asked not to be named, and who responded to written questions from Reuters by email.

ADVERTISEMENT

A second police officer said most people would not understand the pressures on Van Dyke and other cops when they are dealing with someone holding a weapon, in this case a knife, and have to make split-second decisions.

“A police officer sees that video and has a different mindset than the rest of the people out there. It could be one of us,” the officer said.

UNION CONTRACT

ADVERTISEMENT

Dion Trotter, president of the Cook County chapter of the National Black Police Association, said a 13-month delay in releasing the video of Van Dyke shooting McDonald frayed relations with the community. “Those kinds of things begin to break down the trust between police and community,” Trotter said.

But Trotter backs the FOP’s decision to stand behind Van Dyke. “It’s the FOP’s job to support him,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The turmoil over the case – protesters blocked streets this week and disrupted Black Friday shopping on Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile” — has shone a spotlight on a police department unable to stanch violence in the city’s poor, black neighborhoods.

A group of African American aldermen last week called for the ouster of McCarthy, a key member of Emanuel’s administration. One also stated the police union contract, which expires in 2017, will now be scrutinized.

“Our caucus has vowed to work with other caucuses and other of our colleagues to review the FOP contract to make sure there are tougher policies and sanctions against police officers who do egregious or illegal acts,” said Alderman Pat Dowell.

ADVERTISEMENT

McCarthy put Van Dyke on administrative duty soon after the shooting, but under terms of the FOP contract the cop still drew a police paycheck until he was charged with murder on Tuesday.

The police chief and the mayor have defended the delays in charging Van Dyke and releasing the video. They said their hands were tied, in part by the city’s agreement with the union.

Dean Angelo, president of the local lodge of the FOP, dismissed criticism from lawmakers who he noted had unanimously approved the FOP contract. “Now, because it’s advantageous to their political career, the FOP contract needs to go.”

He also defended the FOP’s decision to post the appeal for a bail bond on its website, saying that no members have complained.

ADVERTISEMENT

One concern among black city council members is the frequent use of lethal force by Chicago cops. In the seven years between 2008-2014, 74 percent of people shot by police in Chicago were black. Chicago police shot an average of 50 people a year in that period, against 31 a year for Los Angeles, 27 in New York City, and 14 in Houston. To be sure, though, Chicago’s murder rate – at 17 per 100,000 people – is significantly higher than the other cities over the same period.

In almost all cases, investigations of the Chicago Police Department’s officer-involved shootings find that lethal force is justified. However, the city spent $358 million from 2008-2014 to settle lawsuits against the city, the vast majority having to do with police misconduct. In the McDonald case, city lawyers preempted a lawsuit by agreeing to a $5 million settlement of all McDonald family claims arising from the case.

(Edited by Martin Howell)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Joni Ernst accused of involvement in ‘dark money’ re-election scheme: report

Published

on

According to a report from the Associated Press, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has been accused of illegally working with an outside group to help her re-election prospects in a tough 2020 fight with Donald Trump on the ballot.

According to AP: "An outside group founded by top political aides to Sen. Joni Ernst has worked closely with the Iowa Republican to raise money and boost her reelection prospects, a degree of overlap that potentially violates the law."

"Iowa Values, a political nonprofit that is supposed to be run independently, was co-founded in 2017 by Ernst’s longtime consultant, Jon Kohan. It shares a fundraiser, Claire Holloway Avella, with the Ernst campaign," the report continued. "And a condo owned by a former aide — who was recently hired to lead the group — was used as Iowa Values’ address at a time when he worked for her."

Continue Reading

Facebook

What makes Christmas movies so popular

Published

on

If you are one of those people who will settle in this evening with a hot cup of apple cider to watch a holiday movie, you are not alone. Holiday movies have become firmly embedded in Americans’ winter celebrations.

The New York Times reports a massive increase in new holiday movies this year. Disney, Netflix, Lifetime and Hallmark are now in direct competition for viewers’ attention, with both new releases and reruns of the classics.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Mike Pompeo under increasing scrutiny as as Trump impeachment ramps up: report

Published

on

On Saturday, WVAS Radio's Scott Simon profiled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — and how the impeachment investigation is shaping his political situation.

"As the impeachment inquiry against President Trump continues its march through Congress, questions are churning around his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo," wrote Simon. "For example, did he know, as witnesses testified before House investigators, that President Trump sought political favors from Ukraine in exchange for millions in U.S. assistance? Why did he take days to reveal he was on the now infamous July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy? And does he believe allies of the president who — despite the findings of the intelligence community — claim that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election?"

Continue Reading