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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

 

Powderkeg America

by Tom Sullivan

Disturbing and unsurprising events are still unfolding in Minneapolis and Chicago.

In Chicago last night, police released a dash-cam video of the shooting last year of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by then-Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke. A judge's order forced the release, which the department fought. The video is here. McDonald went down and Van Dyke just kept shooting until he'd emptied his gun. It's sickening:

Hours after a Chicago police officer was ordered held without bond on a first-degree murder charge, the city released a shocking police dash-cam video that captured the white officer opening fire on an African American teen on a Southwest Side street, striking him 16 times and killing him.

The video is about six minutes long and appears to show 17-year-old Laquan McDonald running down the middle of Pulaski Road near 41st Street when Officer Jason Van Dyke, standing next to his SUV, opens fire.

It was released to the media after a late afternoon news conference by Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

That took over a year and multiple FOIA lawsuits.

Via Think Progress, the police union described events to the Chicago Tribune this way in October 2014:

“He’s got a 100-yard stare. He’s staring blankly,” [Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat] Camden said of the teen. “[He] walked up to a car and stabbed the tire of the car and kept walking.”

Officers remained in their car and followed McDonald as he walked south on Pulaski Road. More officers arrived and police tried to box the teen in with two squad cars, Camden said. McDonald punctured one of the squad car’s front passenger-side tires and damaged the front windshield, police and Camden said.

Officers got out of their car and began approaching McDonald, again telling him to drop the knife, Camden said. The boy allegedly lunged at police, and one of the officers opened fire.

McDonald was shot in the chest and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:42 p.m.

The video, shall we say, differs somewhat from that account. NBC News in Chicago reports that after the shooting police arrived at a nearby Burger King to review surveillance footage from the restaurant:

After the shooting, according to Jay Darshane, the District Manager for Burger King, four to five police officers wearing blue and white shirts entered the restaurant and asked to view the video and were given the password to the equipment. Three hours later they left, he said.

The next day, when an investigator from the Independent Police Review Authority asked to view the security footage, it was discovered that 86 minutes of the video were missing.

In a statement, a spokesman for the IPRA said: "We have no credible evidence at this time that would cause us to believe CPD purged or erased any surveillance video."

But according to Darshane, both the cameras and video recorder were all on and working properly the night of the shooting.

"We had no idea they were going to sit there and delete files," Darshane said. "I mean we were just trying to help the police officers."

Protests continue in Chicago.

In Minneapolis, police have three men in custody in the shooting of five Black Lives Matter protesters on Monday. #BLM was protesting another police shooting of a black man:

Minneapolis police said Tuesday that they have arrested three men in connection with the shooting. Allen Lawrence “Lance” Scarsella III, 23, was arrested in Bloomington. Sources said Nathan Gustavsson, 21, of Hermantown, and Daniel Macey, 26, of Pine City, were taken into custody after they turned themselves in. All three suspects are white. Earlier Tuesday, police arrested a 32-year-old Hispanic man in south Minneapolis, but he was later released because, police said, he was not at the scene of the shooting.

The Star Tribune also reports on a YouTube video police have not confirmed shows the suspects. The video shows the interior of a vehicle and masked men, one identified as “SaigaMarine":

“We are locked and loaded,” he says, holding up a black 1911-style pistol. As he flashes the gun, he explains amid racial slurs that the men are headed to the Black Lives Matter protest outside Minneapolis’ Fourth Precinct police headquarters. Their mission, he says, is “a little reverse cultural enriching.”

[snip]

The second man in the YouTube video turned to the camera, while another masked man snickered.

“All these folks here should get the justice and peace that they deserve. And what we really need to do here is reach out to our communities, especially our melanin-enriched communities,” the second man said.

To borrow a riff from Dean Wormer, racist, armed and stupid is no way to go though life, son.

Charlie Pierce, author of Idiot America, describes the cultural milieu "since the country had the audacity of electing a black man to be its president":

There is a wildness in our politics that goes back beyond this administration. But the election of this president—​and his stubborn insistence that he be allowed to act like a president—​has brought a focused volatility to that wildness that is unprecedented in the years since the turmoil of the 1960s. The lost illusions of American exceptionalism, and the loss of the dominant postwar American economy, make the results of that poll sadly unsurprising. But that basic disillusionment has been percolating around American politics for decades. There is something different about it now that is the result of years of exchanging history for desperate propaganda, a yearning for a past that never was, at least not for all Americans. In the 1960s, protests like those going on at various universities, and like the one that's ongoing in Minneapolis, would have been completely unremarkable.

Now, though, thanks to 50 years of steady drum-beating about how it was in the 1960s in which the country began to slide into decline, and how it was in the 1960s that the power drained away from You in the direction of Them, a culture of victimization has arisen despite all the data proving that the victims in question have not been victimized at all, at least not in comparison to their fellow citizens, anyway. What has victimized them are economic and trade policies that have drained the country of decent paying jobs, the decline of organized labor, and a lot of sleight-of-hand political jibber-jabber that continues to this day. It's just easier to get people to blame each other. And that's what's coming to a head in the country now.

I will have much more to say about the state of policing in this country over the weekend.