On November 24th, Chicago police officer Jason van Dyke was indicted on first-degree murder charges for the public execution of 17 year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014. The same week, the Chicago Police moved to fire police detective Dante Servin for murdering 22 year-old Rekia Boyd in 2012, and on December 1st, Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired Chicago Police Commissioner Garry McCarthy. Those events have shed even greater light on the systematic racist violence woven through the history of the Chicago Police Department and the city government more broadly. That brutal history includes the Department’s complicity in the assassination of Chicago Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton and fellow Black Panther Party leader Mark Clark in December 1969.
The most recent stories about police violence in Chicago are occurring at the same time as allegations have surfaced about the Dothan, Alabama Police Department. According to documents leaked by department whistleblowers, a group of narcotics officers planted drugs and weapons on African American men “for years,” and the District Attorney covered-up an ensuing internal affairs investigation to protect the officers’ careers (see Carroll, 2015). The unit’s supervisor, current Police Chief Steve Parrish, Sgt. Andy Hughes, now Alabama’s Director of Homeland Security, and other officers involved were reportedly also active in a Neo-Confederate organization, which advocates the return of Blacks to Africa and has called the Civil Rights Movement a “Jewish conspiracy.” The actions of those officers could impact hundreds of criminal cases in which African American men were prosecuted and many sent to prison. Those White police officers viewed Black men as nothing more than commodities on which to build their careers, and many have reportedly received promotions and now occupy leadership positions in law enforcement.
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