Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Grim Tidings


In Chicago a couple of weeks ago, an 18 year-old boy fled police after being harrassed. Even though he had done nothing wrong, he was shot in the back. As he lay there bleeding to death, police handcuffed him -- then failed to call an ambulance. They left him there, waiting until he bled to death before getting around to calling a medic.

The Chicago police has a long sordid history of violence and power abuse. Out of 10,000 complaints filed by citizens against the police, only 18 cops ever received disciplinary actions against them -- even though 662 cops had more than 10 complaints on their records.

But Chicago isn't really the problem. The nation's police forces are. All over the country, people are beaten, shot in the back, pepper sprayed while handcuffed, shot in night-time raids, robbed, and even raped. Time and time again, the evidentiary picture follows the same pattern: they destroy the lives of people they are sworn and pledged to protect.

Police brutality is a national and systemic problem. Yet complaints against the police do not receive the attention they warrant, in spite of under-reporting due to victim fear, resignation, or threats to their safety. To demonstrate the extent of the problem, please send in your stories of police brutality or harrassment (safe from the threat of police recrimination). Let's show the world just how many cases there are. We should hold the police accountable for their actions, and abolish the notion that police brutality is non-systemic.

In the words of Mayor Daley, who responded testily (after the death of that 18-year old boy) to the suggestion that his police force might be out of control: "Everybody can blame the police for everything, but we all have to look internally in a mirror."

How right he is. Let's hold up a mirror and reflect back the image of our nation's police force -- and reduce the extent of police brutality in our midst. The best way to shift the positions of people like Mayor Daley is to expose police brutality for what it is. Let's do that by shining the light of your stories onto the darkness of our civilized world.

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