The week before the South Side Community Art Center's annual auction, I did this Common Ground show on black art suddenly become collectible. My guests were Philip Schiller, an art collector, Joe Clark, a gallery owner, Marva Pitchford Jolly, an artist and Herbert Nipson, the president of the South Side Community Art Center.
btw, Nipson was also the Executive Editor of Ebony Magazine and my old boss from 1972-74.
I shot this photograph while I was covering the New Hampshire primary election as a freelance journalist working for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. I was on the Obama press bus when we made an impromptu stop at Jack's Coffee Shop in New London, New Hampshire. There were more reporters and photogs than Jack's could hold. And, there was a pecking order as to who was positioned where. TV cameras and their reporters were up front. Still photographers were stationed behind them. Bringing up the back of the shop were print reporters like me.
As we waited for Sen. Barack Obama to get off his campaign bus for the photo op, I exited through a rear door to the coffee shop, which was on a strip mall, to check out Vessels & Jewels, a quaint gift shop adjoining Jack's. When the candidate appeared, rather than heading straight for the coffee shop and the awaiting journalists, he came into the gift store and began shopping for gifts for Michelle, Natasha and Malia. Candidate Obama and I exchanged greetings as he looked at jewelry in the store.
I was the only journalist in the shop so I pulled out my camera, popping off a few shots that became my exclusive photos. Obama paid for his purchase then left Jack's to enter the front of the coffee shop and the rest of the media from his two press buses. As I stood outside watching him head for the coffee shop, Michelle and her security got off the bus. She waved at me, then walked over and gave me a hug. I've known her since I spoke to Public Allies, a civic group she headed up back in 1993. She then joined her husband and I returned to my position with the press corps at the back of the coffee shop. Obama shook hands with the customers in the show, ordered a cup of tea and answered a few questions before we all got back on our respective buses and headed on to the next campaign stop.
A Black man who had suffereda stroke was shot with a Taser and pepper spray because he was unable to get out of his car as a Virginia cop ordered. A Cleveland cop was found not guilty in the 137 bullets trial. From coast to coast police are too quick to pull the trigger. Here's my Chicago Defender column on the situation.
Lethal or nonlethal, same shoot, different day
By Monroe Anderson
When it comes to white cops shooting unarmed Blacks, the hits just keep on coming. So do the misses.
A viral video-surfaced last week that featured David Washington’s turn at taking the hit. The 34-year-old Black man was shot by a Taser then hit by a stream of pepper spray for failing to get out of his car on demand.
Washington was both lucky and unlucky. Lucky because Fredericksburg Police Officer Shaun Jergens shot him with the Taser and pepper sprayed him, leaving him short of breath and with his eyelids swollen closed, instead of aiming a couple of lead slugs at his head. Not that he didn’t threaten to.
“Get out the car,” Jergens yelled after assaulting Washington,“ or I’m going to f--king smoke you.”
Washington was unlucky because he had just suffered a stroke and was in need of medical care not an instant application of tough policing for sitting in a car while Black.
As for the miss, this time it was in Cleveland. In the hometown of Tamir Rice, who would have turned 13 years old next month if he hadn’t been shot to death by Officer Timothy Loehmann while playing cops and robbers in a city playground, justice was on the lam.
Apparently, like Agent 007, America’s police have a license to kill. Michael Brelo, a Cleveland cop, was acquitted Saturday of charges of voluntary manslaughter in the “137 bullets” case for the shooting deaths Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30.
Why is it that cops tasked with serving and protecting routinely see Blacks as the usual suspects before rendering us the usual victims? Why are some police so prone to shoot first, before coming up with answers later? Is innocent until proven guilty a whites only right?
Both Officers Brelo and Jergens suffered from that epidemic that has stricken too many men in blue across the nation: Trigger Finger-itis.
Jergens shot Washington with his Taser as the incapacitated driver sat in his car facing the wrong way on the street because he assumed the Black man was the perpetrator in a hit-and-run accident. The sick man mattered so little to Cleveland police that after he was assaulted by Jergens, he was thrown, handcuffed on the hot pavement while they allowed a police car to roll over one of his feet.
Of course, white cops abusing Black men is nothing new. But the Taser has become Officer-Not-So-Friendly’s high-tech billy club. Back in the day, many a cop’s knee-jerk reaction was to beat a Black man bloody before taking him to the station. In this modern age, rather than crack open their heads, the practice is to hit them with a 50,000 volts of electricity instead.
In 2012, an American Heart Association report linked stun gun use to heart attacks and deaths. There are real-life tragedies to underscore those findings. Last year, 60 Americans died from Tasers. Since they’ve become the “nonlethal” weapon of choice for police worldwide more than 600 people have died from them in the past 14 years.
While Tasers may or may not amount to deadly force, bullets certainly do.
Both unarmed, Russell and Williams were killed on November 29, 2012 after officers mistook the sound of his 1979 Chevy Malibu backfiring as gunshots. Since dead men or women tell no tales, we will never know what led to the 62- police vehicle high speed chase across Cleveland. It is known that 137 bullets struck the Malibu that the two occupants were in. Forty-nine of those shots came from Officer Brelo’s Glock 17. He squeezed off 15 of the rounds as he stood on the car, both it and its passengers motionless, as if he was making his day in a sequel to Dirty Harry.
Ohio Judge John O'Donnell ruled Saturday that Officer Brelo acted within his constitutional rights. In his ruling, the judge explained that since 12 other Cleveland police--eleven white, one Hispanic--had fired shots as well, there was no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that any of the 23 bullets in Russell’s body was the one fired by Brelo that took the Black man’s life.
So Officer Brelo will not see a day behind bars for the deaths of an unarmed Black man and woman although he remains on leave without pay. No charges have been filed against Jergens for his abuse. But he was forced to resign from the force.
Who knows? Someday, maybe we’ll read about some cop actually doing the time for doing the crime.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to build a gambling casino in Chicago to help offset the monstrous city's employees pension debt. Not only is that comparable to bailing out the Titanic with a water bucket, but it also will be yet another gambit at balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. Here's my take in my Chicago Defender column this week.
Gambling casino quite a crap shoot for Chicago’s poor
by Monroe Anderson
I’ve got to admit that I wasn’t convinced when Mayor Rahm Emanuel pinky swore that he was going to listen to Chicago’s everyday people, then act on their best interests--his corporate running buddies and the Loop dwellers be damned.
So as I watched Monday’s news clips on the mayor being sworn in for his second term, I was doggedly determined to stick with my resolve to give the man a second chance. He said that he was going to listen to the people. I’m all eyes.
One of the things I hope the people who claim they care for the people, like those Black men of faith who threw their full support behind Emanuel, tell him to fold ‘em when it comes to his plan to bring a gambling casino to Chicago. I hope they quit winking and nodding long enough to tell Mayor Emanuel the truth: a Chicago casino will do more evil than good to the city’s poor.
If these mayoral supporters have trouble manning up to tell Emanuel like it will be, I suggest they take note of the alarming conclusion business writer, Derek Thompson, came to last week in his report, titled “Lotteries: America's $70 Billion Shame,” on the Atlantic.com website.
“States are making their most hopeless citizens addicted to gambling to pay for government services,” he concluded, after referring to a Duke University study that found that the poorest third of households buy half of all lotto tickets.
For those of us lucky enough to have money in the bank, it’s recreational gambling and a voluntary payment of just one more hidden tax. But, for the poor, the lottery is virtually the first and last hope of attaining disposable income.
I can remember when Blacks played the policy game for nickels and dimes before the state took it over, renamed it the lottery and jacked up the cost of a bet to a buck. It was okie dokie back then because all the money gambled away was going to pay for state and local schooling.
That promise lasted about as long as topless bars in the 1970s remained tourist attractions. Then the Illinois State Legislature pulled a three-card Monte, moving the take from education to general revenue. Over the years, the state legislators, fearful that the voter’s might wise up and throw the bums out, never got around to raising taxes to cover the pension pool for state employees. Now the Baby Boomers among the state workers want to go home to roost. They’re retiring in hoards as soon as they can. The same holds true for Chicago’s Baby Boomers who were police and fire and education employees. Their promissory notes keep on coming, stamped "due."
The state has an estimated $6 billion deficit and over $110 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Chicago has a $30 billion pension crisis. It’s easy to see the wall at the end of the road. It has a big flashing neon sign that says “raise property and income taxes right now.”
All that debt with no easy way out leaves Mayor Emanuel and his city waist-deep in junk bond ratings. When he was in full-attack mode during the mayoral campaign, Emanuel pointed to Springfield and hinted at Washington as he pretended that the posse was coming. Although a Republican, Gov. Bruce Rauner is Mayor Emanuel’s pal. The two men have shared vacations and pricey bottles of wine together. It was easy to assume that Rauner would give a fellow one-percenter a hand. If not, Emanuel’s old boss, President Barack Obama, would have his back.
It’s obvious now that the only thing either the governor or the president can do is wish the mayor the best of luck. Emanuel is now pretending that a casino will come to the rescue because unlike Gov. Pat Quinn, who vetoed a measure that would have allowed a Chicago casino, Gov. Rauner has said he’s open.
Mayor Emanuel would have us believe that the outflow of money to suburban casinos could end up in the coffers of a Chicago casino, bringing in more than $450 million a year in revenue.
I’m no mathematician but with the help of my cell phone calculator I know the numbers don’t add up. Let’s see, $30 billion minus $450 million, leaves the city’s pension crisis at a paltry $29 billion, $550 million.
On the upside, those Chicagoans with the least to lose, won’t have to cross state lines or trek out to Joliet or Elgin to pursue their dreams while blowing the rent and grocery money.
Should Chicago open a gambling casino--near McCormick Place, right where the new Marriott Hotel and DePaul University basketball stadium are to be built--luck won’t be a lady that night or any other night to follow. At least not for the vast majority who can’t afford to blow the little money they have on a dream where the house always wins.
Atlantic.com, Baby Boomers, Chicago gambling casino, Chicago's pension deficit, DePaul University basketball stadium, Derek Thompson, Duke University, government employees pensions, lottery, Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Chicago police have set up a disproportionate amount of sobriety checkpoints in the black community. They also stopped and frisked the city's black residents at an alarming rate. This is just a couple of ways blacks Americans are burdened more than whites. But there is also an unfair economic burden...a Black Tax. Here's my Chicago Defender column on the subject.
The Black Tax toll is both big and small
By Monroe Anderson
Racism is so deeply embedded and routine in America that for many whites it’s nothing more than business as usual. For African Americans, however, racial discrimination exacts a toll, from being over-policed to being undervalued.
When the Chicago police decided to crack down on DUI violations and feed the city coffers with extra violation fines, they set up shop in the Black community. A Chicago Tribune investigation found that 84 percent of roadside sobriety checks were in African American or Hispanic police districts. The newspaper reported Sunday that between February 2010 and June 2014 Chicago police staged DUI checkpoints at 127 out of 152 in the city’s predominantly minority neighborhoods while fewer than four percent were in majority-white police districts--even though that is where one out of four of Chicago’s alcohol-related accidents and deaths occurred.
Chicago police also conducted a quarter of a million “stop-and-frisk” searches during the summer of 2014 that did not lead to an arrest, according to a finding by the American Civil Liberty Union of Illinois. Although Blacks represent less than a third of Chicago’s population, we were close to three-fourths of the stops.
In white neighborhoods, Blacks instantly became the usual suspects. In Jefferson Park, which is just one percent African American, we were 15 percent of all the stop-and-frisks. In the Near North District, where Blacks are less than 10 percent of the population, we were 60 percent of those stopped by Chicago police.
Police targeting Blacks is small change compared to some of the other ways African Americans in Chicago have been burdened with separate and unequal treatment.
Back when I was a Chicago Tribune reporter, I pitched the editors on our doing an investigative series we titled, after what it was called in the community, “The Black Tax.”
Our 1980 investigation uncovered a not-so-subtle but very real practice of economic discrimination: Blacks pay more to get less. We sought out bungalows on the city’s South and North sides that were virtually identical in appearance. We documented the fact that those owning the houses in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods paid as much as 80 percent more for home insurance than those owning bungalows in the city’s white neighborhoods.
We documented that car insurance cost more on the Black side of town than it did on the white side and that it was far more difficult to get home improvement loans in one neighborhood compared to the other for a reason. “Millions of dollars deposited by minority group members in most of their community banks and savings and loan associations have flowed to home loans in distant suburbs and only a few thousand dollars has been retained for neighborhood mortgage,” we reported.
We also discovered that living on the wrong side of Western Avenue, which served as a racial dividing line, came with a price tag of its own. The homeowners in the predominantly Black neighborhoods east of Western had 25 times as many Illinois FAIR Plan policies as the whites on the west side of the avenue. For those who are not homeowners or who are lucky enough to be insured by the likes of State Farm or Allstate, with the FAIR Plan, you pay higher rates for less coverage.
Over a lifetime, this Black Tax adds up to jaw-dropping inequities. White Americans have 13 times the net worth of Black Americans. In 2013, white household wealth was $141,900 while the net worth of the Black household was just $11,000. That’s without even factoring in job hiring and wage discrimination.
In some ways, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been an equal opportunity taxer. He has exacted hidden taxes on Chicago’s Blacks and whites by jacking up water and sewer fees and vehicle sticker fees. He has also raised cable TV amusement taxes by $28.80 a year and 911 taxes on land line and cell phones by $16.80 a year.
The DUI checkpoints and police stops and frisks demonstrate that, in other ways, the mayor plays favorites.
It’s time for all those Black Chicagoans who, for whatever reasons, believed that Mayor Emanuel was their man to remind him that he owes them. They need to go tell the mayor that they want their just due.
I’m not talking about anything so grand as the $20 million he’s forking over to the Jon Burge torture victims. I’m thinking modest. How about he tells his police to quit stopping Blacks and browns on the streets or in checkpoints while focusing the color of their skin before fairly considering content of the character?
It should be a non-taxing thing to do for the mayor who says he knows how to get things done.
America's treatment of its urban Black youth has been anything but benign. Far too many of them have no jobs, no future and little to lose. Here's my take in the Chicago Defender.
Black teen unemployment comes with a price
By Monroe Anderson
This summer threatens to be long and hot. Not climate change hot but heated and angry, Baltimore Spring hot.
Three days ago, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll reported that 96 percent of us believe that there will be more racial disturbances as seen on TV.
After we see more episodes of police routinely showing up on the nightly news after they’ve killed yet another Black male, there will be more repeats of Black teens with little more than time on their hands and outrage on their minds acting out their frustration. We’ll see more squad cars stomped to death. More buildings going up in smoke. More stores ransacked and looted.
“A resounding 96% of adults surveyed said it was likely there would be additional racial disturbances this summer, a signal that Americans believe Baltimore’s recent problems aren’t a local phenomenon but instead are symptomatic of broader national problems,” the Journal reported.
That’s the Fourth Estate’s way of saying poor Black people are about to behave poorly and that while everybody knows it, not everybody knows why. So the opinions are about as racially divided as the nation. Sixty percent of Blacks saw the urban uprising as “long-standing frustrations about police mistreatment of African Americans,” while 58 percent of whites said the riots were "an excuse to engage in looting and violence.”
There are all sorts of evidence and reasons that underscore the Black interpretation while undermining the white one. There are also studies and events to inform us that the frustrations go far beyond the wanton and routine police killing of unarmed Black males to these core problems: No jobs, no hope.
There’s this year’s annual report released jointly by the Chicago Urban League and the Alternative Schools Network in January titled, “A Frayed Connection: Joblessness among Teens in Chicago,” revealed that In 2012-13, just one in ten of Chicago’s Black teens had a job--nine out of 10 did not.
“One half of 20-to 24-year old black male residents of the city are not working and not enrolled in school,” the report warned, adding that “Black teen employment rates in Chicago have reached historically low levels.”
A Kids Count policy report that was a dead ringer to the one in Chicago told the same sad story about young Black males in Baltimore in 2012, “unemployment among those ages 16 to 24 is the highest in the country since World War II.”
The Supreme Commander of the Allies during WWII, Dwight Eisenhower, in his farewell address as POTUS warned Americans about the future dangers of massive military spending, especially deficit spending and government contracts to private military manufacturers. The unemployed Black males are getting short-changed by the military-industrial complex Ike warned us about.
Less than two years after President Lyndon Johnson launched his ambitious War on Poverty in 1964, those resources were shifted to the war in Vietnam. A generation later, President Bill Clinton managed to downsize the military but Republicans later took their pound of flesh, forcing him to end the Summer Youth Employment and Training Program as a stand-alone initiative which resulted in 600,000 kids being laid off.
The bulk of today’s economic challenges in our urban areas can be traced directly back to President George W. Bush. The 43rd president’s surplus-busting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which were never in his administration’s budget, sucked up much of the tax dollars that had been returning to the cities and states.
Depending on who’s calculating those two wars have cost America between four and six trillion dollars. American commanders handed out $3.5 billion with next-to-nothing oversight to purportedly to rebuild the country we illegally invaded.
Meanwhile, back at home, our pavements feel like something out of a war zone. Our outdated bridges are in danger of collapsing. Our transportation system is last millennium. And, of course, our urban areas are teeming with Black men who want and need jobs that they can’t get.
In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is making jobs available for 24,000 Chicago teens through his One Summer Chicago initiative. In the scheme of things, that’s not a big number.
Maybe all those other unemployed teens, will understand it’s the thought that counts. We’ll see soon enough. Summer is just around the corner.
Director Spike Lee will shoot a movie about black-on-black crime this summer in Chicago. The working title is Chiraq. That's Chicago and Iraq truncated into one word. Get it? Here's my Chicago Defender column on what Spike's movie should use as its metaphor.
Spike Lee’s Chiraq could be KKK
By Monroe Anderson
Mayor Rahm Emanuel may not care for the title of Spike Lee’s movie slated to start shooting this summer in Englewood, but as an artist, an out-of-towner and a show business man, “Chiraq” makes perfectly good sense for America’s most iconic Black director.
Popularized by Chief Keef, and other neo-gangster rappers in Chicago’s drill music set, the term Chiraq chronicles the violence in some of the city’s worst poverty pockets. Creating the phrase was a low-brainer, considering that when it comes to body count in Chitown’s most dangerous hoods- Fuller Park, Garfield Park and Englewood--more Blacks have been shot and killed on a year-to-year basis there than in war-torn Iraq.
Beyond that, Spike could certainly use a drive-by box office hit. In nearly a decade, the “Black Woody Allen” hasn’t able to do enough of the right thing to produce a feature film as relevant as director Ava Duvernay’s Selma or as entertaining as director Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. A convincing argument could be made that in the past 20 years, the New York--based director has made only one smack down feature film, the 2006 The Inside Man, that can hold its own against his earlier efforts like She’s Got to Have It and Malcolm X.
While he made some memorable documentaries over the years, including 4 Little Girls, and the TV mini-series, When the Levees Broke, Lee’s feature-film efforts, such as Miracle of Saint Anna, Red Hook Summer and Oldboy, had more fizzle than sizzle.
A modern day Menace II Society might do the trick in reviving Lee’s career but I seriously doubt if Chiraq will do the trick partly because it’s based on a misleading premise.
Contrary to what gets reported on the nightly news or in screaming newspaper headlines, Chicago’s murder rate is on the decline. It’s the lowest it has been in more than four decades. According to rankings made by NeighborhoodScout.com, a website that markets itself as providing “Enterprise-grade data for every neighborhood and city in the U.S.” the Windy City isn’t even on its list of America’s Top 30 murder capitals. Downstate East St. Louis is number one. Two suburbs across state lines, Gary is number three and East Chicago is ranks number 15.
In making another stab at recapturing the ‘90s when his films’ shocked and awed viewers, Spike may be bringing too little, too late to the reality of Chicago’s Bronzeville, which is already showing signs of turning into D.C. or Harlem. No longer the Chocolate City, gentrification and incoming white flight, the Black population in the District of Columbia has slipped below 50 percent. Nor are Blacks the majority in Harlem anymore.
You can see it unfolding before your very eyes in Bronzeville. The hipsters are salting the South Side. They can be spotted walking their dogs, jogging or pushing their baby strollers on streets their parents and grandparents had either avoided or had forgotten.
You can trace it back to Mayor Richard M. Daley and his not so grand plan to transform Chicago into Paris. It was obvious with the flowers and the fences and the fancy hand operated sidewalk vacuums. It was clandestine with the razing of Cabrini Green and Robert Taylor Homes, which diluted the power of the city’s Black voting bloc and exiled the poor to, among other places, Gary, East Chicago and Harvey.
You can see why Chiraq is not the best title for what’s really happening here. So, I’ve got a better suggestion. I think Spike should look at the artwork of visual artist James Pate and either beg, borrow or buy his cutting edge artistic vision. A couple of years ago, Pate had a three-month exhibition at the DuSable Museum. Its title was KKK--Kin Killin Kin.
The detailed black and white drawings, beautiful yet powerful, were of boys from the hood, wearing Ku Klux Klan-like headgear with their black faces exposed or basketball jerseys with the initials KKK on them while pointing guns at each other’s heads. The bullets they fired were artistically frozen just before they entered each other’s heads.
That unnerving reality would make a much more powerful movie than a sequel to the Hughes brothers 1993 hit.
If Spike doesn’t want pursue the KKK metaphor, he can always change his filming location. Killadelphia won’t do because, like Chicago, the City of Brother Love’s murder rate is down. But Baltimore might work. It has killer cops and urban uprisings right now and, unfortunately, a high enough murder rate: Charm City ranks #13 on the Top Murder Capitols list.
Baltimore, courtesy of The Wire, has a controversial colloquialism just as good as Chiraq. That would be Bodymore, Murdaland.
At some point, policemen everywhere are going to realize that there are cameras everywhere. That what they do in public will stay in public...forever. So far, there are too many cops who haven't gotten the point. They continue to perform as cops did back in the good old days when cameras were an inconvenience to carry around. The following is my Chicago Defender column on the subject.
Shoot, cops caught on candid camera
By Monroe Anderson
Michael Slager is the latest cop to get caught on camera starring in America’s most alarming reality TV series ever: Trigger happy cops playing judge and jury, publicly executing unarmed Black males.
Officer Slager was too arrogant, too cold-blooded or too stupid to realize that we now live in the Era of the Candid Camera. You virtually can’t do anything, in public or private, with absolute certainty that it won’t be recorded and that it won’t go public.
There are porn sites dedicated to videos of ex-girlfriends performing some of the most intimate sexual acts imaginable posted by rejected men seeking revenge. There are spy cameras atop streetlight poles, speed cameras hanging out with overhead stop lights at street intersections and surveillance cameras in shops and stores, all aimed to capture and record anyone breaking the law. And there are heroes, like bystander Feidin Santana, who risk their safety to record cops, like Michael Slager, who choose to use living, breathing Black men, like Walter Scott, for target practice.
In the past few days, we’ve all seen what is nothing less than a snuff flick of Slager firing eight shots at a fleeing Scott, hitting him in the back five times, then handcuffing the 50-year-old man’s motionless body before retrieving and dropping, what is suspected to be, a Taser gun next to it.
The North Charleston cop wasn’t the only shooter featured this week in a viral video.
We also saw a 44-year-old Black man shot to death by a 73-year-old white man in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Robert Bates, an insurance executive, who volunteers as a reserve Tulsa County deputy sheriff, claims he mistakenly shot Eric Harris with his handgun, when he meant to shoot him with his Taser gun.
As Harris is tackled, lying face-down on the ground with a deputy’s knee pinning his head, a gunshot rings out and Bates says: "Oh, I shot him. I'm sorry."
Harris screams: "He shot me. Oh, my God," and a deputy replies: "You f---ing ran. Shut the f--- up."
When Harris says he's losing his breath, another deputy replies, "F--- your breath."
Harris was pronounced dead an hour later in a Tulsa hospital.
A sunglass camera worn by one of the deputies recorded the video of Harris’ April 2nd arrest. Against the wishes of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s department, prosecutors charged Bates, a pay-to-play cop, with second-degree manslaughter. Slager has been charged with first-degree murder.
The Zion cop who shot and killed 17-year-old Justus Howell Easter weekend is on paid administrative leave. No cameras recorded the circumstances that resulted in Howell being shot twice in the back, allowing Zion police to come up with one of the usual explanations: The teenager had a handgun.
Eyewitnesses say they saw no weapon. An investigation is underway. No video has surfaced so the Zion police have caught a lucky break. Two-thirds of all Americans have smartphones, which means all but a third of us are now armed with cameras and dangerous to cops who still believe they can do what they’ve done to Black men for generations without notice or record.
On December 4, 1968, Fred Hampton, 21, was murdered by while asleep in his West Side apartment during a Chicago police raid. Mark Clark, 22, was also killed during the predawn raid where police fired 90-99 shots.
In 1972, never quite able to get over the killing of Hampton and Clark and incensed because Chicago police were harassing two friends and supporters, who were both dentists, Rep. Ralph Metcalfe broke away from Mayor Richard J. Daley, assembling a blue ribbon panel and issuing a congressional study the next year entitled “The Misuse of Police Authority in Chicago.”
Not much resulted from that report. Between 1972 and 1991, Detective Commander Jon Burge and his midnight crew, tortured 110 Black criminal suspects, forcing false confessions. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced yesterday (Tuesday) that he backs a $5.5 million reparations package for Burge’s victims. And an ACLU report released last month found that last summer, when the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices were all the rage, the CPD made more than a quarter of a million stops that did not result in arrests--four times that of people stopped in New York.
The CPD continues to be suspect. Two days ago, federal authorities confirmed that the FBI is investing the death of Lequan McDonald, a 17-year-old who was shot down in a barrage of bullets. The Chicago teen allegedly was wielding a knife. A dashboard camera from a squad car recorded the action and the shooter has been reassigned to desk duty.
If I were to tell you that neither the Scott nor McDonald shooting would be a case if there weren’t moving pictures, would you take my word for it?
Well, here are a few more words for the wise: Justice is beautiful, but blindfolded. So always keep your smartphone charged in case you need to show her what is or is not happening.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel reeled inthe Black vote, assuring that he'd get a second term. We delivered. This next term this is what I think he should do for us--as I discuss in my Chicago Defender column.
The Mayor's to-do list for his second term
Thanks to Black Chicagoans voting against their our own interests, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with a double-digit lead, will have four more years to oversee who gets the wheat and who gets the chaff. In his first four years, the mayor put a lot of time and energy into taking care of the Loop and those who either did business or resided there.
Now that he’s got that tied down, I suggest the mayor slip outside the Loop and attend to the rest of Chicago. I’ll even try to give him some of those specifics that Emanuel’s attack ads and debate talking points demanded from challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
To be exact, I’d like to talk about Bronzeville.
Back when candidate Rahm Emanuel was one of many hopefuls during the mayoral debate sponsored by the Chicago Defender, I asked him if, as mayor, he would use Tax Increment Financing, or TIFs, as they were intended to be used--as a means to kick start economic development in neighborhoods that could use it the most--or if he’d use them as Mayor Richard M. Daley had used them--as his handy slush fund.
Candidate Emanuel gave the right answer, promising he’d use them for the good of all Chicago. Mayor Emanuel, like the mayor before him, uses TIFs to take care of those communities and businesses that hardly need a helping hand.
There’s the $500,000 TIF that’s been set aside to rescue that economically distressed neighborhood surrounding McCormick Place. Using funds that could have travelled a mile or so further south along the lakefront, the mayor could have spurred development Black businesses that would not only have provided Bronzeville with much-needed good and services but would have seeded Black entrepreneurship in the process.
That didn’t happen. Instead, the money is going to the economically-disadvantage Marriott Corporation so that it can build a 1,200-room hotel right next door to a DePaul University basketball stadium. This plan was hatched even as the mayor was closing down 50 public schools in Black and brown neighborhoods because, he assured us, the city couldn’t afford to keep them up. The scheme was so outrageous that even students on DePaul’s Lincoln Park canvas protested to no avail.
Other dollars directed by the mayor has been better targeted to Black communities where they can make a difference. Mount Sinai Hospital on the city’s West Side is getting $31 million in TIF money. Whole Foods, the grocery chain frequently referred to as Whole Paycheck because it costs more to have organic foods, is getting $10.7 million in TIFs to build a new store in Englewood. A. Finkl & Sons, a specialty metal producer which was formerly in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood before moving to a 44-acre site on 93rd street, received $22.5 million in TIFs to help finance the move.
In all three of these deals, Mayor Emanuel’s use of TIFs undoubtedly will result in more jobs for some in the Black community. But all three business enterprises are white-owned and operated, guaranteeing that when it comes to commerce in Chicago, while folks will still remain ahead.
There are ways that the mayor can pay back all the Black Chicagoans who so slavishly gave him their votes: Invest in the Bronzeville, assuring that Black entrepreneurs are seeded so that they can grow thriving Black businesses. Rather than spoon feed the Black community with penny-ante social services and welfare deals, Mayor Emanuel can use TIF funds and his one percent pals to develop business partnerships where Black businessmen can eventually take over.
Here’s one specific example for the mayor. Since he took office, Rahm has pushed tourism as a major source of business development for the city. Right at 35th Street, in the landmark Supreme Liberty Life Building that was the longtime headquarters of the first African-American owned and operated insurance company in the northern United States, sits The Black Metropolis Convention & Tourism Council.
For $500,000, a mere fraction of what he’s given to Whole Foods to move into Englewood, Mayor Emanuel can help fund an organization, which doesn’t need to move anywhere, in taking visitors on tours that teach them about the history of Bronzeville.
There are other investments I’ll pull the mayor’s coattails to in the future. Four years from now, should he decide he’d like to another term, he should know and Chicago’s Black voters should know, what he’s done for them and what he’s been doing to them.