Chicago: Another Department of Justice Investigation?

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Submitted by Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo on Wed, 12/09/2015

Deja vu all over again?  The announcement of a pending Justice Department investigation of the Chicago Police Department, Dr. Coleman-Abedayo notes, should provoke yawns at best, and at worst outright suspicion of pending whitewash.  It’s hard to believe an attorney general with such close ties to police unions that the national chair of the FOP and Rudi Guliani campaigned for her Senate approval, will find much wrong with cops in Cleveland, Chicago or anywhere else “under investigat

In an effort to sedate and mislead the African-American community, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has initiated an investigation into the Chicago Police Department. The investigation will focus on whether the DOJ can discern a pattern and practice of excessive force, including deadly force by police.

This investigation was triggered by massive demonstrations in Chicago and perhaps, equally as important the successful economic boycott by anti-police terror groups of Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue shopping district, called the Magnificent Mile during Black Friday shopping. The investigation takes place nearly two weeks after the release of a video showing white Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17 year old Laquan McDonald, an African teenager 16 times and the newly released video of 25 year old Ronald Johnson shot in the back by Chicago police.

The DOJ/Chicago probe joins federal investigations into police terror in Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Seattle, among others. Under former Attorney General Eric Holder, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division opened “over 20 investigations into police departments, more than twice as many investigations than were opened in the previous five fiscal years,” according to a December 2014 Justice Department statement.

The goal of the DOJ investigations is not to assign responsibility or to hold killer cops accountable for the cold-blooded murders occurring on American streets. The goal of the legal settlements between the Department of Justice and local police departments is to preserve the status quo to provide the illusion that police departments are designed to “protect and service” without asking the critical question of ‘who’ the police are paid to “protect and serve.” These settlements are known as consent decrees and typically police departments do not have to admit guilt or liability. As Attorney General Loretta Lynch remarked during her press conference on the upcoming Chicago investigation, these pattern and practice investigations are not bound by timelines and often take years before completion. This is the political role of bureaucracy where issues are placed into a folder never to see the light of day again.

The government announces these useless pattern and practice investigations with the hope that attention to this issue will deflate the momentum of the movement because justice delayed is justice denied. These bureaucratic tactics are a part of the war of attrition – a charade that hopes one can simply wait out the momentum of a movement. It is assumed or hoped that the public is willing to trust that DOJ will “independently” and “objectively” investigate the matter – with a finding favoring the victims. But, where does this illusion come from? Why are traditional civil rights organizations continuing the fallacy that the federal government has any interest in the protection of African-Americans?

The Urban League of Chicago, for example, joined in the call for a federal investigation, alleging a pattern of “discrimination, harassment against black people.” Rev. Jesse Jackson has also called for these kinds of investigations. These illusions should have been deflated after the Department of Justice investigations into the murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown that exonerated both killers. Tangentially, it should be noted that the Martin and Brown investigations were only released by the DOJ after citizens in Washington, DC ( Justice Monday demonstrations in front of the Department of Justice) and demonstrations across the country demanded their publication. In every instance, it is the people who are the engines fueling political and social change. If the Democratic Party is the place where movements go to die then DOJ investigations are the place were justice goes into purgatory.

President Obama expressed how “deeply disturbed” he was after watching footage of the Laquan McDonald killing but nevertheless he was able to balance his “emotion” by acknowledging his deep gratitude “for the overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform who protect our communities with honor.” But, the President had no deep insight into the system, that he represents, that perpetuates the war machine against the African-American community. His statements in respect of the killings of African-Americans are never unalloyed expressions of unmitigated outrage, but always tempered with a salute to the police.

Obama’s Department of Justice is not an independent “finder of facts.” The DOJ is the bedrock of defense for killer cops, police occupation of the African community and the standard bearers of American apartheid. Obama and Lynch serve the interest of power and capitol. As a result, Obama feels comfortable defining both ISIL and the youth involved in resisting police terror in Baltimore as “thugs.”

Six Illinois police officers colluded with police officer Jason Van Dyke in the reporting of the killing of 17 year old Laquan McDonald. In fact, Van Dyke’s fellow officers formed a “blue wall of silence” where they even embellished the lies that Van Dyke used to justify the assassination. But these officers have no fear of accountability. The system will protect them and reward their loyalty, through promotions and bonuses, to a fellow officer.

Obama calls international terrorism a “cult of death” but for Africans living under state occupation and police immunity we understand that American apartheid is also a cult of death. Our challenge emerges when the next African is killed by police, and that will happen in about 26 hours. Our response should not be to advocate for more useless DOJ investigations but to create a resilient and sustainable movement against those in power who protect killer cops and maintain American apartheid.

 

Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is the author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated: No FEAR: A Whistleblowers Triumph over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. She worked at the EPA for 18 years and blew the whistle on a US multinational corporation that endangered South African vanadium mine workers. Marsha’s successful lawsuit led to the introduction and passage of the first civil rights and whistleblower law of the 21st century: the Notification of Federal Employees Anti-discrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act). She is Director of Transparency and Accountability for the Green Shadow Cabinet, serves on the Advisory Board of ExposeFacts.com and coordinates the Hands Up Coalition, DC.

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