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The [Tuesday] Papers

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell took her journalistic brethren to school today, teaching two remedial lessons, if they were paying attention: Reporting 101, and a freshman survey course of recent race relations in Chicago.

Her contribution to the Fred Hampton Way controversy is vital. And by doing something very basic, Mitchell illustrates just how journalistically lazy and soft much of the Chicago media can be.

You see, Mitchell did what any reporter is supposed to do from the beginning when working on a story but which no one else seems to have done: She checked the clips.

In so doing, Mitchell found that the 1969 "ambush" in which Chicago police officers John Gilhooly Jr. and Frank Rappaport were shot to death wasn't really an ambush. "Not an ambush in the sense that it was premeditated," a Chicago police commander said at the time.

In fact, I found Mitchell being a bit charitable toward the anti-Hampton forces in writing that the incident "had little to do with the Black Panther Party."

The evidence presented so far suggests the incident had nothing to do with the Black Panther Party.

Instead, according to the contemporaneous accounts that Mitchell reviewed, the Gilhooly and Rappaport deaths stemmed from an incident involving a Cook County Jail guard who had stolen a gun from the purse of another man's girlfriend. A chain of events ensued in which the two police officers were shot.

Two weeks after police killed Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, the Chicago Police Sergeants Association passed a resolution protesting the "cold-blooded murders" of Gilhooly and Rappaport, while defending the raid that in which police killed Hampton and Clark.

Isn't it interesting how history repeats itself?

Back then, a police association tried to deflect attention from their own deadly misdeeds by playing with the facts and exploiting racial fear. In so doing, the police attempted to make the story not what they had unjustly done, but what the Black Panthers had done (or didn't do, as the case may be) to deserve it.

Isn't that what's happening today, too?

Isn't it interesting that the story is now about the Black Panthers supposedly killing two (white) Chicago police officers and no longer about the police assassinating two (black) Black Panthers?

Is the picture becoming clearer?

Higgins Hacks It Out: Sun-Times editorial cartoonist Jack Higgins contributes today with a drawing of the imagined intersection of Fred Hampton Drive-By and Honorary Kill The Pigs Way. A smoking gun and the outlines of two police officers lay under the streetlight.

Perhaps Mr. Higgins could enlighten us all with the facts of the case involving Rappaport and Gilhooly that he came across in his research.

Chicago Tribune editorial cartoonist also weighs in: Oh wait, they don't have one.

Daley Shows Leadership: At least the mayor, known for bringing racial reconciliation to the city, is out front on this one. Probably in spite of what his internal polling shows, too.

Bizzaro Chicago: In which the editors of the major papers here are African-American. One of the papers then produces an editorial like this.

Obama MIA: Last I saw, he was giving a speech to Democrats in Topeka, Kansas, and they don't have a Fred Hampton Way, so it's really none of his business.

In my cursory bit of research this morning, by the way, I didn't find any evidence of Obama speaking out about Hampton, but I did find this self-described revolutionary who would like to meet them both.

Post Office Namings Also Controversial: Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. John Shimkus have moved a bill through Congress that would name the post office at 332 South Main Street in downstate Flora "The Robert T. Ferguson Post Office Building."

The measure awaits the president's signature.

"Mr. Ferguson was a distinguished public servant who worked tirelessly on behalf of postal workers in Southern Illinois," said Durbin, in a press release. "There is no more fitting way to permanently and publicly recognize Robert Ferguson's work than to name the Flora, Illinois post office in his honor. With the passage of this bill, we commemorate Mr. Ferguson's exemplary service to the Flora community and to postal workers and patrons throughout Southern Illinois.

"In addition," the press release notes, "Durbin supported two other bills . . . naming Illinois post offices, including 'The John F. Whiteside Joliet Post Office Building' at 2000 McDonough Street in Joliet, Illinois, and 'The J.M. Dietrich Northeast Annex' at 1927 Sangamon Avenue in Springfield, Illinois."

Oppo research starts now.

Best Endorsement Ever
"On the 3rd District Republican side, GOP voters should prefer perennial candidate and clown Raymond Wardingley only because he's not a neo-Nazi like Arthur Jones."

- today's Sun-Times

Kid Kerry
"You can classify Kerry Wood as one of the [Steve] Stone enemies to whom Prior was alluding. Wood has bristled in the past at Stone's analysis. Told Sunday that Stone had turned his focus to Prior and raised questions about his status, Wood shot back: 'Who's that?'

"Told again that it was Stone, he said derisively: 'Oh, is he still around?'"

- Sun-Times

"Told of the Wood quote, The Beachwood Reporter's Sports Affairs Desk said derisively: 'Oh, is he still around?'"

'Cause we were kinda hoping he wasn't.

From the Capitol
Chicago's papers don't care, but we do.

The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that legislation "to prohibit smoking in the dormitories of both private and public Illinois colleges" passed the state senate last week with bipartisan support.

The paper also reports that "Illinois legislative leaders are planning up to $14 million worth of remodeling in the House and Senate chambers, including new desks and chairs, carpeting, and possibly a faux skylight in the House ceiling that is projected to cost $1 million." Also with bipartisan support.

The Associated Press reports that "Although an Illinois law has allowed the use of marijuana as medicine since 1978, the statute has sat on the books unused. Now a Chicago lawmaker has won the chance to take a practical medical marijuana bill to the Senate for a floor vote for the first time in three decades."

Fishy Correction
"In professing her love of loach fishes last month ('Let Us Now Praise the Loach,' Feb. 16), staff writer Katharine Grayson noted that her experience with the truly underappreciated fish began in her youth, when her family owned six fish tanks. Last Saturday, she was promptly corrected: There were five tanks, at most, reports her dad, Alan Grayson, who cared for all the household fish--including the ones in Katharine's tank, which she was probably supposed to be responsible for."

- Chicago Journal (March 2)

Don't forget to use our Tip Line: Naming rights available.



Permalink

Posted on March 7, 2006


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Trailer: Swing District.
SPORTS - Ryan Pace's Narratives Are Killing Us.

BOOKS - Chicago For Dummies.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Sears Motor Buggy.


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