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Loretta Lynch Slams Chicago Police Department After Releasing Damning DOJ Report

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

After a 13-month investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice released a 164-page report Friday detailing the abuse of force by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). According to their findings, officers’ brutality often goes unpunished — especially when its perpetrated in communities of color.

“The Department of Justice has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force in violation of the fourth Amendment to the Constitution,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced in a press conference the day the report was released.

“Our investigation found that this pattern or practice is in no small part the result of severely deficient training procedures and accountability systems.”

Thousands of pages of documents, including policies, procedures, training plans, department orders and memos, internal and external reports as well as the city’s entire misconduct complaint database, were used as part of the investigation.

Additionally, the Department of Justice received over 500 phone calls, emails, and letters from individuals looking to lend their experience to the report. They included attorneys, paralegals, outreach specialists and data analysts from the civil rights division of the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, as well law enforcement officials from police departments nationwide.

Asst. Attorney General Vaita Gupta, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson also spoke at the press conference.

The pattern of deadly and non-deadly force that Chicago Police engages in “includes, for example, shooting at people who present no immediate threat and tasing people for not following verbal commands,” Gupta explained.

The Department of Justice found that the pattern of unconstitutional force is “largely attributable to systemic deficiencies within the CPD and the city,” she added, which includes inadequate training.

“For example, we observed training on deadly force that used a video made decades ago with guidance inconsistent with both current law and internal policy,” Gupta noted.

The report also details measures that the CPD has taken to resolve community relations and policies. Investing in a de-escalation training course for officers and establishing a Community Policing Advisory panel, in addition to recruitment efforts to increase the departments diversity, represent major improvements.

“The incidences described in this report are sobering to all of us. Police misconduct will not be tolerated anywhere in the city of Chicago and those who break the rules will be held accountable for their actions,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.

In October 2014, the shooting of Laquan McDonald and the handling of its evidence sparked calls for the mayor’s resignation and the launch of the DOJ’s CPD investigation.

“Some of the finding in the report are difficult to read, but it highlights the work we have yet to complete to restore the trust between the department and the community,” added Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.

Watch:

Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

IMAGE: United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks to Reuters in an exclusive interview in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec

Better Regulation Of Guns Would Reduce Senseless Violence

When Donald Trump speaks of the “inner city” — as when he talks about so many other things — he reveals his ignorance. His oddly retro term fails to capture the renaissance that has swept so many urban centers; it overlooks the last three decades’ dramatic drop in violent crime; and it suggests that most black Americans live in urban ghettos, which is certainly not true.

But Trump’s insensitivity and shallowness aside, there are serious problems lingering in some urban centers, the most troubling being an uptick in the homicide rate. Over the last year or so, as criminal justice experts have noted, murders are up in several cities around the country, including Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Chicago.

And it’s not only the nation’s larger cities that have seen an upsurge in violence; so have smaller ones such as Mobile, Alabama, where I live. According to local law enforcement authorities, Mobile has already surpassed its recent high of 31 homicides in 2014. By mid-October, police were investigating the 35th.

Why aren’t we more upset about these murders? Why aren’t we holding daily protests and demonstrations to demand better police tactics to ameliorate the violence? Why aren’t we insisting that the presidential candidates outline plans to deal with poverty, joblessness and persistent hopelessness, which allow violence to flourish? And why, oh why, aren’t we holding weekly conclaves with leading politicians to demand reasonable gun control?

Yes, we ought to react with anger and alarm when a poorly trained, trigger-happy police officer shoots down an unarmed black man. But we should also be angry and alarmed when a lovely teenage girl like 15-year-old Trinity Gay, daughter of Olympian Tyson Gay and a rising track star herself, is gunned down in the parking lot of a Lexington, Kentucky, restaurant, apparently caught in the crossfire between two groups of men shooting at each other earlier this month.

To keep this in perspective, violent crime is still trending downward from its lofty and frightening heights in the 1980s and early ’90s. Chicago’s murder rate, for example, is only about half as high as it was in 1990. (And it’s always wise to reiterate that most homicides are intra-racial: The vast majority of black victims are killed by black assailants, while the vast majority of white victims are killed by white assailants.)

Still, some neighborhoods are suffering staggering losses. Those caught in gang wars, turf battles and revenge slayings over dumb insults include children on the playground, mothers driving to work and elderly couples out for a stroll.

And that doesn’t even take into account the actual targets (and perpetrators) of most of these crimes: young black men who have been seduced by the siren song of the streets, who have little hope for productive lives (or long lives, for that matter), who have so little self-respect that they cannot manage any respect for others. They are killing each other with a callousness that is chilling.

While the phrase “root causes” went out of vogue a long time ago (just as “inner city” did), it remains true that young men consigned to lives of poverty and despair will frequently turn to crime. The nation needs a new plan to tackle the intergenerational poverty that has left so many of them behind. That makes more sense than spending billions on incarceration, which leaves families bereft of husbands and fathers and produces better-trained criminals.

But the single best weapon (if I may use that term) against this senseless violence would be the better regulation of firearms, a goal that shouldn’t be beyond our reach. Gun rights advocates note that Chicago already has tough firearms regulations, but that doesn’t prevent nearby jurisdictions from selling weapons to Chicago residents. That means that state politicians, in Illinois and elsewhere, will have to be persuaded to crack down on gun sales.

Impossible, you say? Not if enough voters started to care about the lives of poor black people lost to street violence. Black lives certainly ought to matter, regardless of the way those lives are lost.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

Photo: Activists hold a protest and vigil against gun violence on the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, outside the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia December 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Chicago’s Fourth Of July Weekend Toll: 82 People Shot, 14 Of Them Fatally

By Peter Nickeas, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — For 10 minutes, it seemed like the shooting was everywhere in the South Chicago neighborhood.

It started when someone shot and wounded a couple, then two people fired at the shooter, then there was a chase and shots exchanged and a man sitting on a porch was hit. Responding officers kept cutting each other off on their radios as they reported other gunfire in the area late Sunday night and early Monday morning.

Then the heavy equipment rolled in: A helicopter and SUVs packed with lockers of rifles. SWAT teams in green coveralls patrolled the streets with uniformed officers.

It was just one of dozens of shooting scenes across Chicago over the long Fourth of July weekend. In all, at least 82 people were shot, 14 of them fatally, since Thursday afternoon when two woman were shot as they sat outside a two-flat within a block of Garfield Park.
Five of the people were shot by police over 36 hours on Friday and Saturday, including two boys 14 and 16 who were killed when they allegedly refused to drop their guns.

Many of the long weekend’s shootings were on the South Side, clustered in the Englewood, Roseland, Gresham, and West Pullman neighborhoods that rank among the most violent in the city.

The victims ranged from the 14-year-boy shot by police in the Old Irving Park neighborhood to a 66-year-old woman grazed in the head as she walked up the steps of her porch on the Far South Side. Most victims were in their late teens and 20s.

Each night of the long holiday weekend, at least a dozen people were shot in the greatest burst of gun violence Chicago has seen this year.

— From Thursday night into Friday, three people were killed and 10 others wounded. An attack outside a West Englewood salon left two men dead and an East Garfield Park shooting took the life of a 21-year-old woman.

— From Friday afternoon into Saturday, 20 people were shot, one fatally. The man who died had been flashing gang signs in a parking lot in the Clearing neighborhood when someone told him to stop. When the man didn’t, he was shot, police said.

— From Saturday night into Sunday morning, four people were killed and another 10 wounded.

— The bloodiest stretch of the weekend was a 13-hour period between 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 3:30 a.m. Monday when four people were killed and at least another 26 wounded, many of them in critical condition. And the most chaotic scene was in South Chicago, where three people were wounded during a running gun battle.

The shooting started around 11:20 p.m. Sunday when someone opened fire at two people who just left a store on Exchange Avenue south of 80th Street. A 25-year-old man was taken in critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a 19-year-old woman was stabilized at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

While the man was firing, two people on the street shot at him and a chase ensued, with the three exchanging gunfire through a vacant lot west toward Escanaba Avenue, police and neighbors said.

The three didn’t hit each other but a 48-year-old man was caught in the crossfire while sitting on the porch. He was wounded in the ankle and taken to Jackson Park Hospital.

The shooting kicked off an hour of occasional chaos as responding officers kept hearing gunfire, first the exchange between the three, then an apparently unrelated volley of shots a few blocks west on Muskegon Avenue where police found shell casings on a porch.

A 10-1 — a call for an officer in distress — was broadcast across the city because the shots were so close to police.

Officers from across the South Side responded, including tactical teams who had been ordered to wear their uniforms instead of plainclothes for the holiday weekend.

Police were radioing about hearing gunfire all over the neighborhood, and a district lieutenant ordered a perimeter over a three-block-by-four-block area. No one was taken into custody.

As a helicopter circled overhead, someone shot up a house a few blocks south on Exchange Avenue, just outside the perimeter, around midnight. The gunfire was called over the police radio before any 911 calls were received, and officers ran down the street toward where the gunfire came from.

The house that was hit by gunfire, in the 8400 block of South Exchange, was near where a teen had been shot earlier in the day and police had responded to a call of a gang disturbance. A group of gang members had been hanging out outside and someone wanted them removed, police said.

About half an hour later, the neighborhood had finally quieted down. “Release the perimeter,” the lieutenant ordered, though he asked that patrol cars keep a watch on the four crime scenes.

Photo via WikiCommons

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