Here’s Why Chicago And Black Lives Matter Are Protesting Police

Casey Harper

Chicago is in turmoil over multiple police killings in the city, and similar events in Cleveland have led to confusion around the country about what exactly is going on.

Here are the seven things you need to know about what is happening with Black Lives Matter protestors in Chicago and Cleveland right now.
1. There are two separate big police killings in the news right now — one in Chicago and one in Cleveland. Shooting A: Chicago Police officers fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who is black, in October of last year. Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct in the shooting. The next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 29.

Shooting B: Cleveland is in uproar after a grand jury decided two police officers will not go to trial for the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who is black. The officers rolled up on Rice after a police dispatcher informed them the boy might be an active shooter. In a video of the incident, Rice appears to reach for a gun on his waist, prompting police to fatally shoot him. The gun turned out to be a toy. Protesters also accused the officers of failing to get medical help for Rice.

2. A second Chicago police killing happened last week.
Chicago police fatally shot a 19-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman last weekend, but police later said shooting the woman was an accident. Police were intentionally shooting at Quintonio LeGrier, who they say charged at them with a baseball bat. After firing several shots, however, police also shot Bettie Jones in the chest. The cop said he didn’t see her.

This shooting has not garnered as much national attention as McDonald’s death, but it comes at a very bad time for the department and has led to national confusion.

3. The content and timing of a video of McDonald’s death sparked a large part of the outrage. 
The video of the event shows McDonald moving away from Chicago police, as he is fatally shot 16 times in the middle of the road. Authorities said McDonald had taken PCP and was carrying a pocket knife. The problem is the video was not released until November, because city officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, tried to keep it from the public. The release came over a year after the shooting, because a freelance journalist sued to have it released.

The video quickly drew national outrage, leading to the firing of the police superintendent and calls for Emanuel’s resignation, since chargers were brought against the officer a year after the shooting. Protesters also took issue with the fact police shot the teen 16 times, even though he is a good distance away and does not appear to charge them.

WARNING: the video is graphic. WATCH:

4. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel could lose his job.
Chicago does not have an official recall process to remove a mayor other than to vote him out of office. Emanuel could not be voted out until the next election in 2019. Two Illinois Democrats did, however, introduce a bill in the Illinois legislature to hold a recall election, but so far it has not gained steam.

Protesters have gathered outside Emanuel’s home, calling for his resignation.

“He doesn’t understand that we’re fed up,” one protester told ABC 7 WLS Tuesday. “We’re fed up with his leadership in Chicago, and he has to resign.”

5. The Department of Justice is investigating the Chicago Police Department. 
The DOJ announced earlier this month it would launch a “pattern and practice” probe into the Chicago Police Department. Investigators will look at police policies, emails, complaints and other information to determine if the department has a history of bad policing.

A similar investigation was conducted of the Ferguson Police Department. A grand jury declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, but a DOJ investigation of the department as a whole found systemic racism and bad policing. Ferguson police were forced to enter an agreement with the DOJ where they would be closely monitored and forced to improve their practices.

 6. Chicago police already have a terrible reputation.
A Guardian investigation exposed in February that Chicago police have what amounts to a domestic black site, where they allegedly torture detainees who they often hold illegally and keep from their lawyers.
“Not much shakes me in this business – baby murder, sex assault, I’ve done it all,” David Gaeger, a lawyer representing a client who was taken to the site in 2011, told The Guardian during their investigation. “That place was and is scary. It’s a scary place. There’s nothing about it that resembles a police station. It comes from a Bond movie or something.”

Officers in the department have been caught stealing drugs and money, and have allegedly cut deals with drug dealers. They allegedly tortured suspects to get false confessions, all while covering for each other so as not to get caught, according to a Guardian investigation.

“There is a deep mistrust, and it really becomes a cancer here in Chicago because it eats away at respect for authority and respect for the law … that becomes toxic,” Rev. Marshall Hatch of New Mt. Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church told the Associated Press.

7. This issue isn’t going anywhere.

With protests in Cleveland building, six more trials for Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray coming up, and at least one more trial for the Chicago cop, it’s likely the Black Lives Matter movement and racial politics will continue to draw national attention.

Follow Casey on Twitter and like him on Facebook.

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