Amid the continuing climate of police shootings of unarmed Black men across the country, Ald. Ed Burke (14th Ward), is sponsoring an ordinance recently introduced in the Committee on Public Safety that could charge activists who choose to protest police brutality with a possible hate crime, if passed.
Such is the case in Louisiana, where democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law May 26, the Blue Lives Matter bill that classifies some forms of threatening police as hatred against police. The new law, according to media reports, adds officers and first responders to the state’s hate crime statutes that give protective classification to victims of gender, race and religious discrimination.
Since the bill’s passage into law, Raul Delatoba, a New Orleans resident was arrested on Sept. 5 and charged with a hate crime for shouting slurs at police and damaging a hotel window, according to the Times-Picayune.
The Chicago Blues
The current proposed amendment to Chicago’s Municipal Code, Chapter 8-4, concerning inciting of riots and acts of hate crimes, was introduced June 22 by seven aldermen: Ald. Burke, Derrick Curtis (18th), Matthew O’Shea (19th), Willie Cochran (20th), Chris Teliaferro (29th), Nicholas Sposato (38th) and Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st), some of whom are former policemen.
The amendment, in part, reads: “It is unlawful to create a clear and present danger of a riot or assault, battery, or other unlawful trespass against any person or group of persons because of his or her race, religion, color, national origin, past or current employment as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or an emergency medical services provider,” and seeks to elevate law enforcement, firefighters and emergency providers to the status of a federally protected class equivalent to groups that have been historically discriminated against because of race, sex or religion.
“The title of this ordinance — Blue Lives Matter — appears to be an attempt to shift attention from the work of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has challenged police abuse. Existing laws penalize acts of violence against a police officer or other first responder,” says Karen Sheley, director of the ACLU’s Police Practices Project.
In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which took on the issue of police brutality after the shooting of 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson, police organizations and their supporters at the federal, state and city levels are pushing back against the protests nationwide by portraying law enforcement as victims being targeted by protesters and people who hate them, according to the Free Though Project, which tracks government accountability.
A 16-year veteran of the force who prefers to remain anonymous, says, “Understandably, a lot of officers are disturbed by what they see happening on the streets and on the job.
“Our job is tough and when you have trouble being stirred up in the streets and co-workers who feel as though they can do what they want because the union will back them up. That makes it hard for the good cops who want to do their job right. Will this new ordinance help? Maybe, maybe not, but we’re already protected.”
Another anonymous veteran says “. . . such an ordinance can be used as a tool to cripple protesters in the event a situation is misconstrued whereas, officers can use their creative writing skills to not only to label those who can be considered as police fighters,” such a move could bring more penalties and more jail time they insisted.
Siding with the law enforcement community are powerful national interests such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), the National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP) and major corporations that have contracts to supply local law enforcement agencies with high-tech and military-grade equipment like that seen on the nightly news in the aftermath of the Michael Brown 2014 shooting.
According to police-reform proponents, public outcry and demonstrations are seen as a threat to these complex contracts between local law enforcement agencies, the federal government and major corporations with critics decrying the use of military equipment and tactics being used against Americans and on American soil.
The Ire of Secondcitycop.blogspot.com
The popular blog for Chicago policemen – past and present – secondcitycop.blogspot.com appears to be the go-to online forum not only for police camaraderie, but also to spew what some consider to be racist venom against Blacks, minorities and anything Chicago police perceive to be a threat to their culture.
For example, on Saturday, June 20, 2015, in the officer-involved shooting of a 23-year-old Black man nicknamed Nunu, Area Central gun unit responded to a call of men with guns near East 71st Street and South Merrill Avenue, according to Chicago Police Deputy Chief Bersoctt Ruiz.
Reportedly, a chase ensued with Nunu, and an officer said they saw a gun and that Nunu was instructed to drop the gun, but instead, turned and raised the gun toward the officer, according to police. The officer then shot Nunu several times. By Monday morning, the secondcitycop blog had posted excerpts of the story in cynical fashion and received 44 comments.
Most of the comments on the blog appeared to come from people who had knowledge in the field of law enforcement and chose to post anonymously, and for good reason. The views are very strong and can be deemed offensive by some:
6/22/2015 08:50 a.m. – Anonymous “And STILL …. The WAR on Police Officers CONTINUE with these Animals…. So glad I’m retired….Be SAFE out there….”
6/22/2015 10 a.m. – Anonymous “How about going to school and get educated before spouting off your big mouth, how about you people go get a job! Oh that’s right, you too stupid to do that kind of stuff! But you can sit in a window looking out of it all day! F***ing dummy!
6/22/2015 11:25 a.m. – Anonymous “The media apparently doesn’t realize (or care) that they lose all credibility when they allow these ignorant mutts to spew their nonsense about how the offender was a ‘good boy’ or some other s**t about how he was trying to get his life together. Enough with the getting your life together bulls**t. He was a thug, and this is what happens to thugs when you point guns at the police.”
This past August, the family attorney for Paul O’Neal, Michael Oppenheimer, referred to his client’s fatal encounter with CPD as “cold-blooded murder.” The Black 18-year-old accused of stealing a car earlier in the suburbs was shot by a white officer captured on department-issued body cams that show the before and after moments of the tragic encounter, but not the actual shooting, sparking rumors of a conspiracy.
In stark contrast to the handling of the Laquan McDonald video, which was released over a year after he was killed by officer Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago Police Department (CPD), citing a newly adopted transparency policy, released dash-cam video right away, triggering a huge outcry from policing critics and criticism of the shooting from within the department as well.
Secondcityblogspot followed every detail of the developing story, which appeared to split the readers of its blog who are usually united, into officers who sided with their co-workers and those condemning the shooting. In a post on Aug. 7, titled “Video Review (Update),” an unnamed writer for the blog wrote, in part: “Policing is under a harsh spotlight and police work, especial [sic] hands-on police work, isn’t pretty. But a even-handed, unemotional critique of the actions captured on video can be a benefit.
“It can educate the public, media and our critics. If the only voice being heard is the voice of the a**holes shutting down reasoned discourse, then we are going to be backed into a corner that there is no coming out from. Some here feel we’re already at that point. Reasonable men and women can disagree as to how far gone it is. And sometimes that involves taking a look inward.
“That being said, we have a series of posts to address the videos over the next few days. And the first one is to rebut some of the more outrageous ‘sanctification’ promulgated by the media and the protesters.” the story reads.
Over 160 commentators responded:
8/7/2016 12:59 a.m. – Anonymous: “. . . But for the 2nd night I have watched ‘protesters’ at the CPD station on S. Mich. Why in the world are they allowed to get inches from a PO screaming and (no doubt) spitting? The black cop in the polo shirt was more than worthless as the ex-Marine dude threatened and generally abused the bike cops forming a line. . . This nonsense ended when a Union rep showed up.”
8/07/2016 05:40 a.m. – Anonymous: “Deuce you have one of the most respected law enforcement blogs on the www . . . I am a south side revolver carrying blue shirt who cringes when I see the young bucks running around looking Marine SpecWar operators. We need guys and gals who can out think these cretins and hood rats.”
8/07/2016 06:14 a.m. – 11th Dist King: “. . .I am sick of hearing officers saying s**t about these officers. We are supposed to be a group of one, but the city has us divided. They did what they did, and they were doing their jobs. One last thing. If this a**hole would have stopped none of this would have happened.”
In response to the overwhelming negative publicity generated by the release of the video, some activists accused CPD of changing the narrative from the embarrassing shooting to sympathy for the police when on Aug 8, the Chicago Sun-Times published a story titled “CPD alerts cops that 3 West Side gangs plotting to shoot officers.”
Secondcityblogspot.com ran with the story, stating on its blog, “According to police sources, department members have also been advised to ‘limit interactions and visibility.’ ” Further, commenting that “We read that as ‘Stay Fetal and in the Hole.’ ”
Readers of the site seized the moment, posting even viler comments:
8/9/2016 1:30 a.m. – 11th Dist King: “Limit visibility? really? [sic] seriously? [sic] Ok then, I am gonna park in the maintenance lot and sit in the middle of the pool vehicles all freaking day! I get it, I really do, dont [sic] do s**t, stay out of s**t, and let the hooligans, or I will call them savages, have the streets. I GET IT!”
8/9/2016 02:56 a.m.– Anonymous: “. . .Basically they want you to hide from the gangbangers [sic] instead of searching & destroying them. I am too ashamed to let people know I am the police. Chiraq the city of corruption & cowards.”
8/09/2016 07:59 a.m. – Anonymous: “The 11th District King is my hero! I limit my visibility by sitting my vehicle in locations that are not seen by the general public. I then remain there until the zone calls me. . . Choose your location wisely and you will limit your visibility and exposure to the savages.”
8/05/2016 08:05 a.m. – Anonymous: “Where the f**k is Dean Angelo’s (president of the Fraternal Order of Police) balls. He makes a bulls**t statement in the paper. No aggression in the statement at all just candy coated words. This f***ing guy has to go. He should be telling police to stay home if the gangs are going to shoot the police straight up or with a sniper stay home and be safe f**k these jag offs.”
West Side leaders speak up
The tantalizing headline went viral and was picked up by domestic and international news organizations, stroking fear in Chicago citizens and police alike. The Defender published a story rebutting this so-called threat on Aug. 13, titled, “Who are the leaders of these gangs, ask West Side activists.” Former West Side gang leaders Benneth Lee and Clifton ‘Booney’ McFowler and Nation of Islam student Minister Caleb Muhammad, all categorically denied such an accusation.
Said Benneth Lee, in the interview, “One of two things I see going on here: Either they don’t want to do their job, which they’re saying they’re not going to be as visible in the community now. And, the second thing I see is they’re trying to get a green light to continue killing unarmed Black kids for no reason.”
Currently, the states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Tennessee are considering similar initiatives while Congress is considering the national Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016, which seeks to amend the US Code, Title 10, Chapter 13, making an attack on law enforcement a hate crime.
“If this happens,” says Mike Smith, analyst by day and weekend activist “it will be a terrible omen for those that believe in democracy. They (police) will continue to shoot us without any accountability, and showing up at a protest might get you arrested and prosecuted as a hate crime. Unbelievable.”
Meanwhile, Sheley says rebuilding trust is what the City Council should be doing. “We are in the midst of a grave crisis regarding this trust, and we should be working to ensure that the community knows that police will be held accountable when they act improperly,” she says.
“Concerned citizens need to contact their Aldermen and Congressman immediately,” says Smith. Alderman Burke did not respond to the Defender’s call to his office.
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