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The [Friday] Papers

"A police accountability task force confirmed what communities of color live with daily. A report by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's hand-picked group called out the nation's third-largest police department for racism," Chicago Reporter editor and publisher Susan Smith Richardson writes today.

"But the strong acknowledgment of racial discrimination and the clear recommendations in the report, including getting rid of the primary agency that disciplines officers, may be trumped by the mayor's diminished public credibility. A spoiler alert has hovered over the work of the task force from the beginning: Is the process legitimate, and will the mayor act on the task force's recommendations?"

Richardson is (rightly so) skeptical.

"[H]ours before the report was released, the City Council unanimously approved the mayor's pick for police chief, Eddie Johnson, who is African American. The Police Department veteran didn't apply for the job. Despite a search process led by the Police Board, which [task force leader Lori] Lightfoot chairs, the mayor dismissed the group's finalists and advanced Johnson to interim and then permanent superintendent with support from black aldermen.

"The mayor's handling of Johnson's appointment - bypassing an established process - is a bad omen for the adoption of the task force's recommendations."

Agreed. Rahm's elevation of chief of patrol Johnson - and the end-run around the law (sanctioned by the city council) he used to make the choice - is as if the last five months never happened. This isn't the choice - or the process - of someone who has learned even a single lesson.

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"Many of the recommendations respond to the longstanding complaints in communities of color about structural racism in policing - from disproportionate stops to the use of excessive force."

Like with the Chicago Public Schools closings (and the media, often), structural (or "institutional") racism doesn't require personal bigotry to exist - though it often does. That's what makes structural racism so pernicious and complicated to solve. It's a lot easier to simply fire (or vote out of office) a bigot. It's incredibly hard to change a system - however well-intentioned - that produces racist outcomes.

"Other recommendations recycle old ideas. A 1972 police commission proposed more independent oversight of Chicago police. The new report proposes replacing the Independent Police Review Authority, which handles the most egregious complaints against officers, with an independent inspector general. The agency's dismal record was cited in the report: From 2011 to 2015, 40 percent of complaints filed were not investigated. And the report also nods to the agency's bias in favor of police officers.

"The task force also took aim at the police union contract, which the City Council approves, for provisions that reinforce the code of silence and protect and perpetuate misconduct."

The code of silence that so damages the integrity of the police department is far more deadly - ultimately - than the code of silence among frightened neighbors unwilling to cooperate with police in their investigations. Some of us have been saying that for years. It all starts with the police department, not the community. It starts with fixing institutional power, not changing the behavior of those who are the most powerless.

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"The process [for reconciliation] would begin with the police chief acknowledging the department's history of racial discrimination."

And acknowledging widespread misconduct, which this police chief denies ever seeing in 27 years on the force. To that end, the city could still benefit from a Burge truth commission; the department coming clean about the David Koschman case; answering the questions the Guardian has posted - to no avail - about Homan Square; an honest retelling of the department's history; and a new era of transparency and openness. Does anyone think Eddie Johnson is the person to bring about that kind of change? Because without out, nothing changes.

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Finally:

"Chicago has had its share of hearings, commissions and recommendations about police practices over the years. Truth-telling could be cathartic for Chicagoans, but only if the mayor, aldermen and the Police Department act on the truth."

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Stairway
Beachwood Landings.

Chicago Loses A Racing Gem
A tribute to Janine Starykowicz. Plus: The Muddy Derby Field; Bye-Bye Bo-Rail; and Songbird Serenade. In TrackNotes.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: Aurora Aksnes, The Mountain Goats, Donnie Fritts, Kneedelus, and the Smashing Pumpkins.

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The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #98
Is in post-production!

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Noted

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BeachBook

Farm To Fable. This is a really great investigation that can be done in your city!

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The New Gilded Age: Half Of All Super PAC Money Comes From Just 50 Donors.

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Definitely.

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Rare Garfield Goose.

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Norway's "Slow TV."

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Mob Priest Gets Wrist Slapped.

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To many, Sanders is what they wanted Obama to be.

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Hoaxing a reporter - and readers - is a real dick move.

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Bruce Rauner is just the worst.

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50 Largest Corporations Hiding $1.4 TRILLION In Offshore Tax Havens.

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Ohio Newspaper Chain Won't Publish Articles About LGBTQ People.

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Dear Abby: Woman Worries Friends Will Find Out She's Rich.

See also:

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Exclusive: UN Bribery Allegations.

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Best Homan Square summary.

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Adam LaRoche's Sex Slavery Adventure.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Fry day.



Permalink

Posted on April 15, 2016


MUSIC - Roger Waters In Chicago.
TV - 24 Hours With Velocity.
POLITICS - Chicago's Unwelcoming Ordinance.
SPORTS - TrackNotes: Lazy Hazy Crazy Dog Days.

BOOKS - The Origins Of Environmental Bullshit.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Chicago Daisies.


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