Someone asked the other day, “why is it different now?” An old criminal defense lawyer replied, “Because I can talk to six thousand people instantly with a device in my pocket.” Most of the time, those six thousand won’t care, but when the call goes out over social media that it happened again, the cops killed another black person, this time a 15-year-old, it goes viral.
No, no evidence is needed. Few ask the obvious question, “What happened? Why?” Oddly, it’s almost been trained out of people, to learn of an outcome and not ask anything, not wonder why, the outcome occurred. Dead black guy? Good enough. Black lives matter. Except this time, it was mostly wrong.
Around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, officers were called to investigate reports of a man with a gun, the department said. Officers confronted a 20-year-old man in an alley; he fled and then opened fire, the department said in a statement. “Officers then discharged their firearms, striking the offender,” the statement said.
The man was expected to survive, and no officers were hurt. The department said it had opened an investigation into the shooting, and on Monday evening announced that it was charging the man, Latrell Allen, with two counts of attempted murder and unlawful possession of a weapon.
At another time, this would have been so banal a bit of local news as to be lucky to find space in the newspaper at all. Chicago’s got a lot of guns lately, and those guns have been busier than they’ve been in a while. This is neither to “catastrophize” the murder and shooting rate nor pretend it’s not happening. When bullets fly, they have to land somewhere, and you pray it’s not your child. For all the passionate pleas for justice, compounded by explanations of how systemic racism started the Butterfly Theory that ended with your child dead, human nature never goes away.
Then the police learned of a social media post about potential looting downtown, miles from where the shooting had taken place. Hundreds of officers were sent to Michigan Avenue and the surrounding area, where they encountered people entering upscale shops, vandalizing storefronts and smashing windows.
Thirteen cops were injured. A security guard and another person, described by the NYT as a “civilian” suggesting they need an editor who is familiar with the meaning of words. And to make the story work, the Times shows a fairly bucolic picture of some cops standing around, pondering their retirement, while a cyclist enjoys a ride. Somehow, no image of massive looting of the Magnificent Mile that followed made it into the Record.
And looting followed.
But looting isn’t “violence,” it’s argued, which only applies to harm done to the person, not to property, such that a wrong word is violence but not massive destruction of property by people who steal Omega Speedmasters for justice. And given their systemic oppression, can anyone blame them? Well, yeah, people can blame them, and no, looting isn’t justified by empty social justice rhetoric.
Alderman Raymond Lopez, whose ward is on the South Side, said he saw no connection between anger over police shootings and the widespread looting downtown.
“There is no social justice component to the criminal activity that we saw last night,” Mr. Lopez said. “This is simply about criminal actions by individuals who are hellbent to cause anarchy and chaos in the city of Chicago.”
But that didn’t blunt the call for “no justice, no peace.”
At least one organization promised that it had planned a demonstration in Chicago on Monday evening, in part to protest the police shooting in Englewood on Sunday.
Aislinn Pulley, a founder of Black Lives Matter Chicago, condemned the shooting and pushed Ms. Lightfoot to allow more civilian control of the police department. “We will remain in the streets until our demands are met,” she said in a statement.
The connection between a guy who shot at cops and “more civilian control” over the police department might be hard to spot, but this is bigger than reality and no shooter’s actions, no looting, overcomes the violence of poverty and discrimination. The nasty details of this particular incident and its aftermath are inconsequential in the grand view of social justice.
As for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, this presented a conundrum. She rejected a call to bring in the National Guard, but she also condemned the looting.
The events instantly played into the broader political dynamics of this season, in which President Trump has regularly portrayed Chicago as a poorly governed hotbed of violent crime. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, expressed fury over the violence and ordered limited access to downtown starting Monday evening.
How can a mayor simultaneously be a progressive Democrat while her city is being looted? If she does nothing, Chicago burns. If she does something, she’s just another authoritarian who oppresses black people. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Lightfood is both black and a woman, and we’ve been told that if black women were in charge, that would fix everything. Seattle’s police chief, for the moment, Carmen Best, might beg to differ, as white college-educated radicals have forced her, a black female police chief, from office.
How does this stop, or does it? Is there any turning back the spiral of groups, sometimes protesters, sometimes mobs, sometimes looters in a “mostly peaceful protest,” that doesn’t involve force? If not, then what are the cops to do when someone shoots at them? Take the bullet, like one of the many dead children of Chicago, rather than return fire and watch the Magnificent Mile burn?
The situation is untenable, as it was always going to be. No progressive mayor can address it and not become reviled by her tribe. Arguing about it on social media solves nothing. But then, one mistaken twit about cops shooting a 15-year-old is all it takes to light the fuse and make Chicago burn.