Chicago Style Cover-up: Van Dyke’s Execution Of Laquan McDonald


Van Dyke–he and City of Chicago had concealed his execution of Laquan McDonald

[Speaking Truth To power]

This week’s belated arrest of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke for the cold-blooded summary execution of 17-year-old of Laquan McDonald last October is a chilling case that illuminates the problem with America’s police culture and the incestuous relationship between cops, prosecutors and politicians. The inevitable results are horrible miscarriages of justice, as is exemplified in Chicago.

Van Dyke shot the teenager 16 times. Now, we have a volatile situation brewing in Chicago, where police protests will likely mar this year’s holiday weekend in the Windy City.

For more than a year, Chicago authorities were in possession of what can be truly called a police snuff video of the murder of McDonald—who was killed in an even more gruesome manner than Walter Scott who was murdered in Charleston, South Carolina by Officer Michael Slager.

Why did it take over a year for this arrest to happen? How did political calculations impede the administering of justice for the McDonald family? Was Rahm Emanuel, or his cronies, so concerned about the mayor’s re-election campaign that a decision was made to bring the “wheels of justice” to a grinding halt to protect Emanuel’s political career?

After all, McDonald’s execution came in the uproar and protests that followed the killings of Eric Garner in New York last July and Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO., last August. The streets had erupted in demonstrations and protests against the institutional racism that is deeply embedded into the foundation of police culture in America.

If this video was never released to the public by a court order, which only occurred due to the actions of independent journalist Brandon Smith and community activist Willie Calloway, would Officer Van Dyke have been arrested at all?

We should note here, that none of the big media companies, with all the resources at their disposal, saw it fit to challenge Chicago officials in court, like this independent journalist Brandon Smith did.The court-ordered videotape release of the police dash-cam that shows Van Dyke snuffing out the life of McDonald is the only reason why some semblance of justice will prevail in this instance.

Why the Democratic administration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had to be forced, by the ruling of Circuit Court Judge Franklin Valderrama, to release the police dash-cam video of the murder of McDonald is an essential question that must be asked of the mayor.

The investigation must reveal all the officers and commanders and perhaps prosecutors who viewed this video. Certainly concealing evidence of a murder –the crime Van Dyke has been charged with– must also be a crime.

Where was the spirit of transparency and democracy in this case? Whenever, police charge an African American man with a crime his whole life story is quickly dissected and dumped in the public domain. But when a police officer commits crimes against Black people every attempt is made to bury the truth, and in this case, even murder.

Van Dyke reportedly had at least 20 complaints against him.

Do police and political officials in Chicago expect the public to believe the reason they took so long in charging Van Dyke was just because they were trying to do a “thorough” investigation? There was clearly an attempt to suppress this taped evidence. Chicago is reportedly a very cash-strapped city. Yet it’s paid $500 million in settlements of claims over the past 10 years.

The City was also willing to give the McDonald family $5 million when the family had not yet at that time even filed a lawsuit. The stipulation that the family must agree that the video would not be released if they took the $5 million was a clear attempt to bribe the family into silence. Who in the chain of political command, all the way to the mayor, had authorized the proposed payment?

Chicago authorities wanted to conceal this cold callous crime from the public. Cover-up and damage control in full effect. Who cares if the crime committed by a killer wearing a police badge and uniform had remained hidden? Van Dyke would have remained on the streets, with his gun; and possibly committed another crime. There are others like him still on the force since none of his colleagues exposed him or reported the truth.

Until his arrest this week Officer Van Dyke was still receiving his regular paycheck from the City of Chicago—even though officials had this evidence for more than a year. How many videos or other evidence of similar crimes have been suppressed in the past meaning the officers involved in those incidents are likely on the force?  That’s why the Department of Justice must step in and investigate the Chicago police department as it did Ferguson’s last year.

Mayor Emanuel reportedly never looked at this video in over a year. How is this possible? Is it because he was not made aware of the video’s existence or did his aides want it that way so he’d have plausible deniability?

Are Black lives just that meaningless and subject to crass political tradeoffs and calculations?

There is no debate here: at the very least the Police chief must be fired immediately. If he and others participated in a coverup he must be charged with a crime.

Mayor Emanuel, in a press conference, said: “I believe this is a moment that can build bridges of understanding rather than become a barrier of misunderstanding. I understand that the people will be upset and will want to protest when they see this video.” He added: “We as a city must rise to this moment.”

Here are a few questions Mayor Emanuel and other Chicago officials must answer.

Why wasn’t anyone in Mayor Emanuel’s administration “upset” to use his own euphemism by this blatant execution by an officer who’d sworn to uphold the law, before this week’s release of the video? Why was the City willing to pay the McDonald family $5 million with the stipulation that the video be concealed? Who authorized Chicago officials to bury the existence of the video of this murder?

The decision could not have been made by a lone and lowly individual. A meeting must have occurred to weigh the pros and the cons. Then someone higher up must have given authorization–if not the mayor, someone very close to him.

The original police claim was that McDonald lunged at Officer Van Dyke; these claims have become routine and predictable–if not a knife it’s sometimes what “appeared” to be a gun. The video proves this is a lie. Why haven’t officers been fired for this fabrication alone?

This is why the buck can’t stop with Van Dyke. In fact, his lawyer should make sure he doesn’t go down alone.

Another troubling aspect of this case is that reportedly one officer tried to erase videotape evidence of this murder—but was caught by another videotape as he was doing so. Reportedly, around eight officers were on the scene when Officer Van Dyke emptied his gun into the body of McDonald. No other officer fired his or her gun.

Were all these officers in agreement with this wanton execution and did they participate in a coverup? Isn’t this proof that the so-called Blue Wall remains strong? Will these other officers also be charged? Will they remain on the streets with their guns? Have they not been charged because commanders and political leadership authorized the coverup?

So what’s Van Dyke’s defense?

Video by its nature is two-dimensional. It distorts images,” Van Dyke’s lawyer Daniel Herbert told CNN. “So what appears to be clear on a video sometimes is not always that clear.”

So, in other words, what we see isn’t necessarily what see. We don’t see McDonald at a harmless distance away from Van Dyke and showing no evidence of aggression; we don’t see Van Dyke pumping bullets through the contorting body of the boy; we don’t see no attempt to determine whether he was alive or not and whether to render him life-sustaining aide; no, according to Herbert, we don’t see chilling callous behavior.

Herbert does the world a favor by exposing the world of denial that many in White America live in — where there is no commitment to fight racism, especially in the police departments, so long as the victims are Black

It’s premature for the mayor to talk of healing. Let’s talk about justice and investigating the entire department.

Show your seriousness by first firing the Police chief Garry McCarthy.


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