Friday, December 25, 2015

chiraq to the potomac: black political class the souled-out slave of apokolips...,

Tribune |  Despite strong efforts at reform, history shows that it often takes atrocity to enact real change.

Before President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, President John F. Kennedy tried to pass it and failed. It took horrific images of police hosing black protesters and voters in Alabama, of police dogs attacking them, to enable Johnson to push monumental legislation past an entrenched bloc of prejudiced lawmakers. It took an enraging video from New York last year of a dying Eric Garner gasping "I can't breathe" to force the NYPD to institute an unprecedented policy — one promising serious consequences for police who witness another officer's use of excessive force without reporting it. Sadly, it's now Chicago's turn.

Amid our anger, can we give City Hall a chance to break down previously impenetrable walls? Despite strong feelings about Mayor Rahm Emanuel's decision to delay showing the Laquan McDonald video to the public while a federal investigation continued, we must not confuse facts. Never was there an attempt by the city to withhold the video from investigators or slow down the federal investigation, which started within weeks of the shooting. Emanuel didn't cause this problem. As in too many American cities, issues regarding police using excessive force started decades before he became mayor. But this tragedy may finally enable him to challenge a despicable status quo.

As in 1964, we need leadership to enact change, but atrocity and public commitment must create an opening to do what couldn't be done before. A formidable police union that protects its worst and undermines its best must be challenged. Actions need to be taken ahead of the U.S. Department of Justice findings, and we all must support that effort. The brotherhood of deadly silence can no longer be tolerated.

We can't have it both ways. After pummeling Emanuel for challenging a powerful teachers union, can we really be enraged that he hasn't been able to take on the police union? Even within the force, good officers have been punished for speaking out. Former police Cmdr. Lorenzo Davis, a 23-year veteran, lost his job on the Independent Police Review Authority for refusing to justify certain police shootings of civilians. His review said he showed a "bias against police." How many other good officers hesitate to speak out?