Over the past few years we have witnessed police abuse of power on a visceral level unknown throughout our history. The almost universality of the camera phone, the increased use of police dashboard cameras, and the early implementation of police body cameras, have brought the public right into the midst of police/public interaction.
The murder of Laquan McDonald, shot 16 times by a Chicago Police officer, and the attempted cover up, caused the resignation of Gerry McCarthy, the police chief of one of the largest departments in the country. And soon after, the defeat of powerful Cook County States Attorney, Anita Alvarez. Many suspect that Mayor Rahm Emanuel will also be unable to wipe the blood of Mr. McDonald off in time to save his next election bid.
Lest we sleep, police unions, and "law and order" politicians are, of course, fighting back. Oh, that they would be fighting back with better oversight, removal of criminal police officers from their rolls, renewed programs to build relationships with the communities they serve, or an end to racial profiling and "stop-and-frisk" citizen stops. What a blessing this would be!
But no, instead, they are digging in, as an occupying force would be expected to do.
One of the local efforts has been the so-called Blue Lives Matter ordinance, led by Alderman Ed Burke. Essentially, this is an example of overkill, and as University of Chicago Law Professor, Geoffrey Stony said, ". . . why do we need this new law? Other than the symbolic dumping on Black Lives Matter, which is ugly." #BlackLivesMatter and many other millennial infused justice organizations have proven effective in fighting for basic human rights in America, and as such are being targeted by our increasingly racist government administrations - it will only get worse.
Nationally, there are at least 10 states that are working to criminalize protests. For example:
- In North Dakota, where the DAPL protests have been taking place, they have introduced a bill, HB 1203, which provides for a legal exemption to motorists that "negligently [cause] injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road…”
- In Indiana, SB 285 provides law enforcement to “use any means necessary to clear the roads of the persons unlawfully obstructing vehicular traffic” once a gathering is determined to be unlawful.
- In Michigan, a bill was passed that provides for fines of $1,000 a day for individuals and $10,000 a day for organizations for picketing.
Over the coming days, weeks and months you will hear of protests, petitions, boycotts, letter writing campaigns, etc. Don't leave it up to your neighbor to respond!
A luta continua,
Trinity UCC Justice Watch Team
The Next Movement committee
P.S. Thank you to the elected Community Police Accountability Council for continually sharing content relevant to the fight, much of it used in developing this note.