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Crime in the city

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Jason Van Dyke murdered Laquan McDonald more than a year ago, and a lot of people throughout the city of Chicago’s power structure were well aware of that at the time. Those people did everything they could to cover up the facts in the case, and they would have gotten away with it if not for a police dashcam and a few muckraking journalists:

“The real issue here is, this terrible thing happened, how did our governmental institutions respond?” Kalven said. “And from everything we’ve learned, compulsively at every level, from the cops on the scene to the highest levels of government, they responded by circling the wagons and by fabricating a narrative that they knew was completely false.” To him this response is “part of a systemic problem” and preserves “the underlying conditions that allow abuse and shield abuse.”

In April, the Chicago Tribune revealed Van Dyke’s name and his history of civilian complaints—including several brutality complaints, one of which cost the city $500,000 in a civil lawsuit—none of which resulted in any disciplinary action. In May, Carol Marin reported that video from a security camera at a Burger King on the scene had apparently been deleted by police in the hours after the shooting.

“This case shows the operation of the code of silence in the Chicago Police Department,” said Futterman. “From the very start you have officers and detectives conspiring to cover up the story. The question is, why are they not being charged?”

Van Dyke’s history “also shows what happens when the police department consistently chooses not to look at patterns of abuse complaints when investigating misconduct charges,” he adds. This failure “is one of the reasons an officer like Van Dyke has an opportunity to execute a 17-year-old kid.”

Rather than acknowledging the systemic failures, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is now trying to frame the issue as the action of one bad officer, as the Tribune reports. “One individual needs to be held accountable,” he said Monday.

Kalven calls Emanuel’s “reframing” of the narrative “essentially false.” He points out that “everything we know now, the city knew from Day One. They had the officers on the scene. They knew there were witnesses. They had the autopsy, they had the video…. They maintained a false narrative about those events, and they did it for a year, when it could have been corrected almost immediately….They spent a year stonewalling any calls for transparency, any information about the case.”

Part of the coverup was a five million dollar settlement McDonald’s family reached with the city. The settlement was reached even before any lawsuit was filed, which indicates how eager everyone in the city’s power structure was to make this incident go away without actual the facts of the case ever becoming public.

Rahm Emanuel’s behavior through all this has been particularly dubious. As of two days ago he was claiming he had never seen the video that was the key piece of evidence driving the city’s settlement/coverup of the killing — a claim that is equally disturbing whether one believes him or not.

In any case, Emanuel’s attempt to cover up the city’s cover up by turning a story of systemic legal and political corruption into a banal tale of one trigger-happy cop is just a continuation of an ongoing crime.

. . . per this analysis, police misconduct has cost Chicago more than a half billion dollars over the past decade in settlements, fees, jury verdicts, and associated legal costs.

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