Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What Supt. Johnson calls 'Progress'

Sorry. No Weekend Quotables. I spent most of the holiday weekend relaxing with family up in Williams Bay without reading a paper or touching a computer. Sweet.

But here's one for you. It comes from Rahm's newly-appointed top cop, Eddie Johnson. Remember, he's the one who claimed he'd never ever seen one case of police misconduct in 27 years on the force.

So halfway through the weekend, Johnson was already boasting about how his massive show of police presence including mass, targeted arrests of young blacks and Latinos in community sweeps resulted in "only" 39 shootings and 3 deaths.

From the Sun-Times:
Addressing reporters at Washington Park on Monday evening, Johnson called the four-day total of 39 shooting incidents and three fatalities a sign of progress as his department tries to tamp down a surge in killings through the first half of the year.
 “This is progress" Johnson declared. "This is not success. We will never, ever arrest our way out of this.” A pretty Frank admission coming from someone apparently trying to arrest his way out.

Turns out, Johnson might have waited 'til weekend's end before issuing his declaration of progress. About 28 more people were shot in the city in the hours after Johnson spoke, most of them in areas where patrols had been stepped up: Austin, Garfield Park, Englewood, Lawndale, Grand Crossing, South Chicago, Gresham.

By midnight Monday, 64 shootings had been reported, including a 5-year-old girl and her 8-year-old cousin.

Of course it's not just Interim Supt. Johnson who's seems bent of filling prisons with black and Latino youth before any crime has been committed. It's his boss, the mayor, who sets policy. Although, I must say that Johnson could use a better media person on staff.

Sen. Kirk calls for mass arrests of 18,000 black youth. 
I recall Republican Sen. Mark Kirk (now up for reelection) standing next to Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, calling for the mass arrests of 18,000 young black men. "And if they complain," Kirk said, "just say this is about the death of Hadiya Pendleton." As you might have guessed, none of the 18,000 were shown to have anything to do with the shooting of Hadiya. The alleged shooter, teenager Michael Wardwas arrested and confessed, AFTER the fact. Police sweeps don't prevent crime. The correlate with it.

I guess my point here is that Johnson's declaration of "progress" was not only premature, it represented the worse kind of thinking about our epidemic of gun violence. Not only is it turning the CPD into the biggest violator of civil rights, it's a totally ineffective strategy, no matter how well it plays politically. The worse the rights violations, the more violence. The 64 shootings this holiday weekend topped last year's horrendous record of 55.

The first four months of the federal civil rights probe of the CPD has already cost the city $1.4 million and counting.

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