06 December 2015

Sucks to be Rahm Now

First, it now appears that the DoJ will start an investigation of the Chicago Police Department:
The Justice Department plans to launch an investigation into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department, a wide-ranging review similar to those that scrutinized the police departments in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, according to several law enforcement officials.

The civil probe, which the officials say could be announced early this week, comes as Chicago continues to grapple with protests after the release of a video showing the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, which prompted murder charges for the officer involved and the resignation of the city’s police chief. The Justice Department is already investigating the McDonald shooting, but this new investigation by the department’s civil rights division would focus on the police department’s practices broadly to determine whether any of them contribute to civil rights violations.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), a former top aide to President Obama, called the possibility of a civil rights investigation “misguided” last week. But, a day later, he reversed course and said he would welcome such an investigation.

Emanuel has come under fire for his administration’s handling of the McDonald video, specifically for fighting its release for more than a year, which some have suggested was a politically motivated decision meant to insulate the mayor from political backlash while he was locked in a tight reelection effort. One week after the McDonald video was released, Emanuel fired Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy.


On the same day that McCarthy was fired, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wrote a letter to the DOJ urging them to open an investigation into the police department.

“The McDonald shooting is shocking, and it highlights serious questions about the historic, systemic use of unlawful and excessive force by Chicago police officers and the lack of accountability for such abuse by CPD,” Madigan (D) wrote.

Under Obama, Attorneys General Loretta Lynch and her predecessor, Eric Holder, have used patterns-and-practices investigations to aggressively probe police departments for potential constitutional violations, investigating dozens of departments since 2009. Those probes have found patterns of excessive force by police in Cleveland; Albuquerque; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Portland; New Orleans; Seattle; Puerto Rico; and Warren, Ohio.
And on the civil/press end, a federal judge just forbade the CPD from destroying old misconduct investigations:
Chicago authorities must notify journalists and activists before they destroy decades of records related to police misconduct, Illinois Circuit Court Judge Peter Flynn ruled in an emergency order Thursday.

The order comes after journalist and activist Jamie Kalven petitioned the court after police officials said they would destroy hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence, investigative files and computer records related to Chicago police officer misconduct reports older than four years.

The documents are among a trove of data requested by Kalven and other media organizations, including the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, dating back to 1967. Last year, city officials agreed to release all of the police misconduct information, but the city’s police unions sued to prevent the documents from becoming public and the issue remains in limbo. The case will eventually be decided by an Illinois appeals court.

The emergency order comes in the wake of a large public outcry following the release of the video that shows police officer James Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder hours before the video’s release.

Kalven and his attorney, Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law professor, played a critical role in the release of the dash-cam footage by reporting on the video’s existence and demanding that officials release it. Kalven expressed relief at the judge’s order, saying it would give him time to go back to court before authorities could set a “bonfire” to decades’ worth of key information about police misconduct in Chicago. “Ministers, civic groups … are all calling for a full examination of the systems of accountability in the city.”


“So while we’re having this conversation about openness, honesty, transparency, distrust and lack of accountability, the destruction of these records would ensure impunity for officers who have engaged in abuse,” Futterman said. “I can’t imagine a worse time than this.”
I rather expect to see a whole lot of Freedom of Information Act requests to follow.

It also just blows my mind that the CPD unions have the right to demand the destruction of records. I would think that this decision would be exclusively the purview of management, and in any case, state and federal law would render that portion of the contract unforceable.

In either case, I expect to see a constant drip ……… drip ……… drip, of revelations, and even if they predate Rahm Emanuel's tenure as mayor, he will take the heat.

I'm hoping that he is frog marched out the mayor's offices in handcuffs, but if it merely leads to his being toxic in the context of Democratic politics, Dayenu.


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