Chicago, sadly, is right at the 3,000-people-shot-this-year mark.
We talk about it today with the Reader’s Sarah Macaraeg, who co-wrote, along with Allison Flowers, the deeply-researched article Charged With Murder, but They Didn’t Kill Anyone, Police Did.
Legendary Chicago journalist Laura Washington’s with us today, too. She works for both the Sun Times and ABC7.
Here are some highlights from our conversation, along with time posts to find them in the video.
Laura Washington on Police Supt. Eddie Johnson:
(3:20) He inherited a nightmare job. Thank God it was him. As we know there was supposedly a hiring process, a selecting process that went somewhat awry because the Mayor chose not to pick from the Police Board recommendations, but we got to Johnson and he’s got an…to me an unsolvable job. I mean he can’t do what he’s been charged with doing, which is to bring the crime levels down, but I think one of the most important things he’s done is he’s acknowledged unlike his predecessor Garry McCarthy, he’s acknowledged that the crime is out of control. He’s acknowledged the Police Department has not been able to deal with it. And up until now there’s always been conversations about the numbers and spinning, and it’s not as bad as it appears to be. The most important thing I think he’s done too is say it’s not just our problem, it’s a social problem, it’s a gun problem and we have to work on solving this together.
Sarah Macaraeg reacts to public defender Amy Campinelli’s op-ed in the Tribune
(9:43)in her op-ed she lays out the results of the war on drugs, how all of that increased criminalization, how all of those increased policing has really sort of built-up a prison industrial complex that has really disappeared, you know generations of black and Latino young men. And she raises the question of why would a war on…how would a war on guns have different results, and then she points to deeper underlying problems.
Macaraeg on aldermanic calls for 500additional police officers
(11:40) what if it wasn’t just a matter of you know, 500 police, but 500 social workers? And what if it wasn’t just having a presence, but it was also like okay, a presence, and also a presence in school, and then also scholarships, and a whole pathway to success instead of pathways to criminalization?
Washington on the need for improved training at CPD
(12:46) I was talking early this week with Rudy Nimocks. I don’t know if you remember that name. He was a top deputy superintendent during the Harold Washington years…He talks about the changes he’s seen in terms of police work. And what he talks about needing more now than ever is frankly better training and better orientation of cops with the community. He goes back on the community policing issue, he was doing community policing before they called it community policing, and he talks about how cops are hunkered, as we all know they are hunkered down now, they don’t talk to people anymore. They don’t connect. They’re afraid. The citizens are afraid of the cops and the cops are afraid of the citizens, and he says until you break that down you can put another 500 or another 1,000 cops on the street… it’s so easy to grab at the obvious solution. We can put more money that we don’t have into additional cops, but what about all these other extenuating circumstances. If we don’t do something about these other issues, if we don’t do something about the community policing aspect, the relationship aspect, the 1,000 cops are not going to be any more effective than the ones that ones that went before them….it’s going to take years to get these people trained and on the streets, if you don’t train them properly, if you don’t engage them properly, if you don’t send the message that you can’t go out there and be cowboys anymore, you’ve got to work with the community, we may still be in the same place
Macaraeg discusses her Reader article about the Felony Murder Rule
(21:30) In Cook County in the last five years there are ten instances, at least ten instances in which a civilian has been charged with murder for a killing that was committed by police…in all of these instances, there was an incident in which a person died and that the homicide occurred as a result of police action, shooting or a fatal police chase. So it was widely recognized, and yet through Illinois criminal code the State’s Attorney pressed charges against people for first degree murder. And that all takes place under a very controversial legal doctrine called the Felony Murder Rule, and that posits that in the commission of a felony, and some of these were alleged felonies, but in the commission of a felony someone sets out to commit a felony, in doing so they set in motion a chain of events that led to the death of the other person.
Washington on the critical role the State’s Attorney plays in deploying “felony murder” charges
23:40) we’ve been hearing this for years, but particularly during this most recent State’s Attorney’s race with Anita Alvarez, we’ve heard that there is a closeness, there is a familiarity, there is a collaboration between the police and the State’s Attorney’s office. They tend to advocate for the police’s point of view. That’s why we ended up with a disaster around Laquan McDonald, the lack of prosecution in that case.
Washington on the power-position in which Eddie Johnson finds himself right now
(28:30) I think Eddie Johnson has tremendous amount of leverage, and I think part of the reason is what I alluded to before about the way he came in. You know Rahm bypassed the system, bypassed the process to bring i his guy. He owns this guy, but Eddie Johnson in some ways because of that owns him. He didn’t need this job.
You can read a full transcript of this program in Word format HERE: cn-transcript-sep-8-2016