Stop Police Crimes News Letter Monthly Column- Final Shot Take 1

Dec 16, 2014


Stop Police Crimes News Letter Monthly Column – Final Shot Take 1




Issue: April, 2015






Steve Craig, Stop Police Crimes Organizing Committee
Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression

The unchecked power of the police has been further exposed in recent weeks, its raw racism revealed. It begins with the ‘stop’. The cop decides who to stop with his or her observations, weighted with the targeting tool of racial profiling—cop as judge. The stop proceeds and suspicions or infractions confirmed, a broken tail-light, a loose cigarette, a half-smoked blunt—cop as jury. Reach for a wallet, a cell phone, raise your hands, resist or run. Cop fears are ‘justified’, and the shooting starts—cop as executioner. Another black or brown body lies still, dehumanized and defiled.

The ACLU recently released a study of police stops made on Chicago’s streets using data supplied by the CPD. Their report revealed some staggering statistics. For instance, during the four month period from April through August of 2011 Chicago police made over a quarter million street stops that did not result in an arrest, issuing ‘contact cards’ fattening the files of ‘usual suspects’. This was four times the rate of stops, on a per capita basis, made by the NYPD at the height of New York’s notorious ‘stop-and-frisk’ policy, a policy that ushered in a new mayor on his promise to end the practice. Seventy-two percent of all Chicago street stops were of African-Americans. Add this to the disproportionate arrest and incarceration of black and brown people compared to the rest of the population, and the racist character of Chicago policing is exposed. The number of street stops had doubled by 2013 under the reign of police superintendent McCarthy.

The official justification is the tough-on-crime targeting of ‘high crime areas’. These policies become self-fulfilling. To fill real or imagined quotas as evidence of anti-crime vigilance the stops ramp up, the arrests ramp up, and the resulting statistics add up to ‘higher’ crime—more cops, more stops, more shots.

Couched in this argument is the assumption of guilt and an imagined black and Latino propensity for crime. National and local policies of controlling black and brown communities are shaped by this racist narrative. Control is the key. The police control the community. The only means of self-defense is to gain control over the police. Community control can be realized by an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council. CPAC must be the people’s demand.

The black and brown body have been dehumanized and vilified. Routine stops are escalating to executions. The execution of Walter Scott in South Carolina was caught on video. The smear of the victim has become almost as viral as the video. Broken tail-light, missed child support payments, and he ran! Maybe he should have raised his hands like Michael Brown. Don’t forget to cuff the body.




Stop Police Crimes News Letter Column – Final Shot Take 1


Issue: March 3, 2015








Steve Craig, Stop Police Crimes Organizing Committee
Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression

The ‘global war on terror’ and the domestic ‘war on crime’ continue to claim innocent victims framed by a delusional narrative of promoting democracy, order and security. This narrative is a thin veil draped over human rights abuses both on foreign soil and on the streets of Chicago. The reflexive U.S. response to political and social crises is to send in the troops. The shock troops, dressed in military green or police blue, may promise to serve and protect but employ tactics drawn from a racist cauldron of profiling, torture and murder. In the fog of war these tactics become the endgame. Society applauds and gives thanks for their abuses, buying the rationale of TV cop shows and combat movies—whatever means necessary to keep the world or city safe.

Since war has been declared on crime, tacitly understood to be black and brown folks, poor neighborhoods are treated as battlegrounds. Some Chicago streets even bear a physical resemblance to the bombed out streets of Gaza or Fallujah. The police act like an occupying army. The population is locked down in an open-air prison and suspected terrorists eradicated by force of arms or incarceration.

A soldier may not have originally signed on to kill Arabs or Asians. S/he may believe he is serving the causes of democracy and freedom when, in fact, s/he is serving Texaco and Halliburton. In the war zone the survival instinct kicks in, never mind the mission—a band-of-brothers mentality. Since some of ‘them’ may be armed and dangerous ‘they’ are all suspect—shoot first.

Police and soldiers are not just similar but are often interchangeable. The two professions dovetail as career pursuits. In November 2014 the CPD website bragged that it “…currently has more than 300 officers serving on active duty in Operation Enduring Freedom and more than 100 officers who are enlisted in the U.S. military. We are proud of them and of the many military veterans who serve as Chicago police officers.” Military veterans are targeted as police recruits and given preferential treatment in the application process. Thanks to the federal government and private contractors military grade weaponry awaits them. There is also a migration of officers in the other direction from police ranks back to the military.

An investigation by The Guardian has surfaced this week about former Chicago police detective Richard Zuley who during his career from 1972 to 2007 became notorious for his success at obtaining confessions from minority suspects in high profile homicide cases. It was documented that he had used physical and psychological torture to extract false confessions from prisoners. Many of the victims of his methods still sit behind bars waiting for legal exoneration. Only one, Lathierial Boyd, has been freed after 23 years of wrongful imprisonment. As a naval reservist Zuley worked for Naval intelligence on leaves of absences and in 2002 was brought in as an interrogator at Guantanamo prison to ply his torture skills in the war on terror. Among his victims was Mohammedu Ould Slahi whose ‘confessions’ were coerced by Zuley’s honed-in-Chicago methods. Slahi has documented his abuse in a recently released memoir. Zuley’s cruel methods even shocked his fellow interrogators and subsequent military investigators.

The infamous torture carried out by Burge and his crew in Chicago has been anecdotally traced to Burrge’s military tour in Vietnam and the methods used on Viet Cong suspects. These military techniques were imported for domestic use in Chicago. Richard Zuley came up through police ranks in this culture of impunity. He then brought his expertise to bear on Guantanamo detainees. Chicago has been an epicenter of police and military abuse.

The U.S. government has historically been bringing ‘democracy’ to the world in the barrel of a gun, often in alliance with some very undemocratic regimes–‘Peace to the world’, ‘Peace to the city streets.’ Peace and democracy cannot be achieved by force and occupation. Let’s use democracy to combat force. Let’s end the control and occupation of our communities. There should be democratic control by a liberated population. The community can use CPAC to control the police. They should be serving the community not occupying it. As it stands now the military and the police are joined at the hip, and on that hip sits a very big gun. police_tank_2


Stop Police Crimes News Letter Colum – Final Shot Take 1




Issue January 20, 2015







Steve Craig, Stop Police Crimes Organizing Committee
Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression

The CPD and law enforcement agencies nationwide are scrambling to repair what they express to be image problems.  With public exposure of racist cops mounting, police departments are trotting out the “bad apple” defense. “Sweet Home, Alabama” blaring from a squad car, racist blogs, encounters caught on video, Klan t-shirts are all labeled exceptions.  The promised clean-up focuses on ridding the force of these public relations nightmares rather than eliminating racist policy.

Poor black and brown communities are policed differently than white communities.  These neighborhoods have been gutted by economic and social marginalization—no jobs, no social services, no infrastructure.  The population has been further victimized by the excesses of decades of the “tough-on-crime” policies of mass incarceration.  Former, mostly non-violent, offenders are caught in a cycle where the choice comes down to starvation or participation in illegal economies, primarily the drug trade, and re-incarceration.

The policing of the African American population has always been about social control.  What began as slavery evolved into convict leasing and prison farms where blacks became debtors for their inability to pay fines for “vagrancy” or other “quality of life” crimes, a debt and jail cycle that continues today.  The more overt, codified oppression of the Jim Crow era followed.  Since the dismantling of Jim Crow the unequal treatment of black and brown communities continues under the current wave of mass incarceration, what Michelle Alexander has dubbed the “New Jim Crow”.

Individual cops respond that they have been unjustly characterized as racist.  After all, black cops are also neighborhood enforcers.  Part of many a reform proposal is to increase minority representation in police ranks.  The racial make-up of the police force and the attitudes of individual cops do matter, but they still serve the same racist master.  Cops, black or white, enforce the same policies that target communities of color.  Black cops were on the scene at the Eric Garner killing. 11th District commander Glenn Evans, who received praise from Superintendent McCarthy for his “no-nonsense” approach to fighting crime, is black.  There is an us vs. them comraderie on the force, the thin blue line, and a code of silence that keeps cops, black or white, from exposing the crimes of fellow officers.

It’s time to start holding cops accountable for their actions and to give communities control over policing policy.  The establishment of a Civilian Police Accountability Council(CPAC) would change the culture of policing.  The good apples left could drop free of the rotten tree.



Stop Police Crimes News Letter Column – Final Shot Take 1



Issue December 18, 2104






Who’s Watching?
Steve Craig, Stop Police Crimes Organizing Committee
Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression


Chicago Police Superintendent McCarthy recently announced a pilot program to equip officers with body cameras in a supposed effort to increase transparency and regain public trust.

The cameras would initially be supplied to officers who volunteer for the program to start in two months.  If the wearing of cameras were to become mandatory for all officers the program could have a positive effect in reducing abusive and criminal behavior by the police.  However, without community control over police actions and direct civilian access to all video, the proposed system will be open to abuse and manipulation.

Who controls the narrative and why? The proposed body camera program in Chicago is a CPD reaction to the public outcry over the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson.  The CPD goal is improved public relations not a change in the occupation tactics of police in the community.  Without civilian oversight with the investigative muscle of an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), police videos would be paraded out to fit the ‘official’ story.  This has been the case in other cities that have used the cameras.  Cameras are turned off or ‘malfunction’.  Police in other cities have had prior access to video evidence in cases of misconduct so they can craft their testimony to fit.  Police cameras are used for surveillance at demonstrations to target activists and justify arrests with out of context footage.

 Sadly even videos that document police crimes have been insufficient to hold police accountable.  We’ve seen the video evidence of the murder of Eric Garner in New York and the assassination of Flint Farmer in Chicago.  In the ‘national dialogue’ the racist eyes of the beholder win out: black or brown on camera-guilty, killer cop-justified.  At least by empowering communities with an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council, the people in the neighborhood can decide when to take action to stop police crimes and not leave it in the hands of Fox News.