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Trump plays politics with Chicago crime, a game only criminals win

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

That part should be a no-brainer. Of course, Black Americans are worried about public safety. But we’re also concerned, as any other group would be, about the disproportionate numbers of allegations of racial bias and “systemic racism.”

What is “systemic racism”? I often use the example of the George Floyd video. If Derek Chauvin, the officer charged with killing Floyd, was motivated by racism — as many observers suspect based on the video — the three other officers who failed to stop him might be examples of systemic racism, a system that leads to cooperation and cover-up of allegedly racist acts.

Similar suspicions welled up around video of Laquan McDonald, 17, an African American fatally shot in 2014 by now-former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke. Three other officers were charged but not convicted of trying to cover up the offense, an offense in keeping with the “blue wall of silence,” an unofficial oath of camaraderie often described as “Cops don’t rat on other cops.”

I understand. Police work is dangerous. Self-sacrifice and group loyalty are powerful necessities in such a dangerous job. But as an FBI agent who testified against a Texas police officer in the fatal shooting of a Black teenager wrote last year, “our first loyalty is to the law. Bad officers make maintaining that loyalty unnecessarily tough for everyone.”

They make life unnecessarily tough for civilians, who too often hesitate to call or cooperate with police, even though cooperation of victims and witnesses is essential for effective crime fighting.

 

That’s why we also mourn Treja Kelley, an 18-year-old expectant mother who was fatally shot last year after testifying against a man charged with killing her 17-year-old cousin.

Witnesses need to be protected so communities can be protected. Some politicians love to pit groups against each other, but policing calls for cooperation on all sides.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2020 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

 

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