A Modest Proposal: Let's Defund The Chicago Police, Says Youth Leader

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 11, 2015 1:15 PM
A Modest Proposal: Let's Defund The Chicago Police, Says Youth Leader

In the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting, protestors are taking to the streets to demand accountability within the Chicago Mayor’s Office and the city’s police department. McDonald was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke in October of 2014. Yet, the dash cam video that was released in November of this year contradicts what was filed in the police report on the incident. Moreover, folks are asking why city officials tried to suppress the video; their explanation was that they were trying to maintain the integrity of the investigation. There have been allegations of a cover up that reach as high as the mayor’s office, and the office of State Attorney Anita Alavrez. Yet, while protestors are demanding the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, one black youth leader wants the Chicago Police Department to be defunded.

Yesterday Breanna Champion Chicago co-chair, Black Youth Project, was interviewed by MSNBC, where she said, “getting Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign is definitely not the main goal of the movement right now.”

In Chicago, police receive 40 percent of our city’s budget to remain operational. That is completely unheard of and unacceptable. One of our major demands is that police be defunded, and that that money used to fund police be used to fund black futures–and be used to fund our communities and things that we need.”

The network didn’t press her on this point at all, instead pivoting toward the Justice Department’s investigation into the police department, which was announced earlier this week (via NYT):

The Justice Department will begin a far-ranging investigation into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department, part of the continuing fallout over a video released last month showing the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Monday.

[…]

Ms. Lynch said she hoped that the investigation would not only examine whether practices in Chicago violated constitutional practices, but also deter abuses elsewhere. Suspicions of hostile treatment by the public, she said, have fueled unrest in a number of cities.

“Building trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve is one of my highest priorities as attorney general,” Ms. Lynch said. “The Department of Justice intends to do everything we can to foster those bonds and create safer and fairer communities across the country.”

Ms. Lynch would not predict how long the investigation might take.

According to the Chicago Tribune, McDonald was being watched by Chicago police officers from a trucking yard; he had been breaking into cars in a nearby Burger King parking lot near Pulaski Road. Officers than called for backup and, armed with tasers, tried taking control of the situation, but McDonald pulled a knife and slashed the front tire of a police car. The news publication added that Officer Van Dyke and his partner arrived ten minutes later on the scene; he opened fire on McDonald after six seconds from exiting his vehicle. He has been charged with first-degree murder. La Shawn Ford, an Illinois Democratic state representative has introduced legislation that would provide a recall process for the mayor’s office.

Yet, back to the point, defunding the police department, especially one in a city that consistently has bloody weekends loaded with shootings, this isn’t a serious initiative. Certainly, police misconduct and corruption happens, it must be rooted out, and reforms must be instituted, but anyone who wants to gut the police in its entirety from any community just isn’t a serious person.