US Opinion and Commentary

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Why Freddie Gray Is Still a Thing One Year On

Posted April 22nd, 2016 at 1:16 pm (UTC-4)
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The outrage that erupted and spilled into the streets of Baltimore in the days after 25-year-old African-American Freddie Gray died in police custody harkened back to another painful and ugly moment in American history. Heavily armed police on the streets, clouds of tea gas, protesters being dragged away against their will: it could have been Baltimore 48 years ago—1968—after the assassination of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But it was April 2015. The city burned with anger, outrage and grief for days. Several months later, six Maryland police officers—not all were white—were charged in connection with Gray’s death. The state prosecutor cited the cops for improperly arresting and shackling Freddie Gray in violation of police rules by loading him into a van without the required safety restraints, and also ignoring his pleas for help.

Freddie Gray, the riots and the sudden shattering of business as usual in Baltimore morphed into a symbol of all the other recent violence between police and the black community, some recorded on smart phones and uploaded to social media websites. A year later, things are quiet, at least on the surface. But much remains unresolved, prime to erupt again as law enforcement grapples with a crisis that until recently had been swept under the carpet.

For Shame, Chicago. Why Have You Not Fulfilled King’s Dream?

Posted January 18th, 2016 at 11:16 am (UTC-4)
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The police brutality, lack of opportunity and diminished hope that the civil rights leader talked about during the March on Washington have become ingrained in Chicago’s cultural landscape, creating a flawed legacy of divisiveness that threatens our future.  

“We Serve and Protect”

Posted December 2nd, 2015 at 2:42 pm (UTC-4)
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Painted on the sides of police cars in Chicago are the words “We Serve and Protect.” That motto is under siege with the availability of videotaped incidents of police brutality directed at African-Americans. Outrage erupted once again with the release of videotape showing a white Chicago policeman gunning down black teenager Laquan Williams, who is seen walking away from police. Public anger grew to a fever pitch, in part because the tape, which shows McDonald falling to the ground as a white cop fired 16 shots into his body, was not made public for more than a year. Under intense public pressure, Chicago officials charged the police officer with first degree murder, and soon after, fired the city’s chief of police.