The Video That Ate Chicago

The video was concealed from the public for about 13 months, but boy, did it have an impact when it was finally disclosed.  Laquan McDonald’s murder, as with other videos of the killing of young blacks, left little to the imagination when it was finally seen publicly, but unlike others, raises an entirely different issue by dint of its taking so long to go public.

Chicago, with its seemingly never ending series of police scandals, may have finally hit the wall this time.  Not just because another black teen was gunned down in the street like a dog, but because there was a conspiracy to conceal it.

The cover-up that began 13 months ago when a Chicago police officer executed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald on a busy street might well have included highly ranked officials who ordered subordinates to conceal information. But the conspiracy of concealment exposed last week when the city, under court order, finally released a video of the shooting could also be seen as a kind of autonomic response from a historically corrupt law enforcement agency that is well versed in the art of hiding misconduct, brutality — and even torture.

It would seem impossible that the second city could pull off a conspiracy like this.  There are too many people, too many loose ends, involved in keeping a murder by cops under wraps.  But more than that, there is a mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, late of the Obama administration where he served as chief of staff, who was supposed to be someone to break the city’s chain of corruption, racism and police misconduct.  And instead of being the champion of black youth, he was in the middle of a cover-up.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel demonstrated a willful ignorance when he talked about the murder charges against the police officer who shot Mr. McDonald, seeking to depict the cop as a rogue officer. He showed a complete lack of comprehension on Tuesday when he explained that he had decided to fire his increasingly unpopular police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, not because he failed in his leadership role, but because he had become “a distraction.”

If McCarthy’s name rings a bell outside of Chicago, it’s because he’s been a major player in the dog and pony show of criminal reform, a front man in the new groupLaw Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration.”  President Obama got all teary eyed loving this group of dedicated leaders who were going to make everything better by pretending to back reform to see whether they could trick the natives into going back in their basements rather than march in the streets.

President Barack Obama will host members of the group at the White House tomorrow, where group leaders will speak on why they believe reducing imprisonment while protecting public safety is a vital national goal.

Speakers at the press conference today include:

Garry McCarthy, Superintendent, Chicago Police Department; co-chair, Law Enforcement Leaders

He wasn’t there to speak about his role in concealing one of his cops’ murder of Laquan McDonald.  Now that Emmanuel’s administration has revealed itself as conspirators, the mayor’s first response is to throw Garry McCarthy under the bus.  This is big, and big conspiracies demand big sacrificial lambs.  So McCarthy is the first to go, especially since Emmanuel put in so much effort getting re-elected while the video remained concealed that it would be a shame to waste a big election victory.

In an effort to save his own sorry ass, and test whether the public is still foolish enough to believe anything he has to say, Emmanuel has called for an investigation into his police department.

Mr. Emanuel’s announcement that he had appointed a task force that will review the Police Department’s accountability procedures is too little, too late. The fact is, his administration, the Police Department and the prosecutor’s office have lost credibility on this case. Officials must have known what was on that video more than a year ago, and yet they saw no reason to seek a sweeping review of the police procedures until this week.

Calling this “too little, too late,” is an exercise in gross understatement.  No one has, as yet, come forward to say that Rahm Emmanuel was expressly informed of the video of the murder of Laquan McDonald, which would be the smoking gun showing he was at the top, if not the leader, of this conspiracy of concealment.  But then, no one really believes otherwise.  No one thinks McCarthy didn’t tell Emmanuel that they were sitting on a time bomb, and their best chance of avoiding getting blown up was to keep it under wraps.

Had a journalist, lawyer, and a judge not forced its disclosure, no one would ever know.  The murder of McDonald would just be another black body in the street, and when combined with the usual story of a threat to a cop, and sad tears for being forced to take him out, nothing more than a blurb in the papers.  Whatever happened to a well-bought judge in Chicago?

The dash cam video might have been buried forever had lawyers and journalists not been tipped off to its existence. Mr. Emanuel, who was running for re-election at the time of the shooting, fought to keep it from becoming public, arguing that releasing it might taint a federal investigation.

The feds call bullshit, though it was a really good try at spin by Emmanuel.  Even if Emmanuel wasn’t involved in the early decision to conceal a murder, he was certainly up to his eyeballs in the decision to fight to keep it concealed later.  Now that it’s been revealed, we know why.

The playbook for covering up a cop execution isn’t working this time.  But this does more than reveal that Chicago’s police department, that Rahm Emmanuel’s administration, is complicit in this filth.  Anybody hear the latest phony police reform club cry out in disgust over the murder, and post-execution concealment, of Laquan McDonald?

How many more press conferences will we endure where very important public officials put on their most sincere face and feed us fortune cookie platitudes about how they’re really, really, going to clean up their mess this time?  And this time, they mean it.


18 thoughts on “The Video That Ate Chicago

  1. John

    The shitstorm(tm) is just beginning. The city is fighting another video with another shooting (Ronald Johnson) that reportedly contradicts the official accounts.

    I wonder how many people are going to have to be the human shield for Emmanuel before the dust settles. My guess is that Anita Alvarez is up next.

    1. SHG Post author

      The lawyers have seen the Johnson video, and swear it proves he had no gun and was running away when he was mowed down.

      The question remains whether this adds to the weight of the shitstorm or deflects attention elsewhere. The natural assumption, that more is more, doesn’t always work out the way one expects it to.

    2. John

      It’s getting ugly fast:

      “Prosecutor: Emanuel’s City Hall made decision to delay police shooting video”

      1. SHG Post author

        Wonder who will be left standing by the end of the week. And that specifically includes Rahm, as well as Alvarez.

  2. Brent W

    Another interesting footnote to the story is that Brandon Smith, the freelance journalist whose lawsuit forced the release of the video, was denied access to the press conference where Rahm Emanuel and Garry McCarthy released it. There’s a good chance that it was a simple oversight, but it stinks.

  3. John Barleycorn

    I wonder if the law students from Yale and their underclassmen library posse are going to ride horses or hitchhike rides at truck stops when they roll into Chicago from back east to the save the town from from the dirty deputies and the rouge mayor?

  4. Eliot Clingman

    The concealment likely constitutes an obstruction of justice. But I doubt any of these officials will be prosecuted.

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