By Adam Schalke
After tensions with the public hit a fever pitch after the shooting of Laquan McDonald by a police officer, a task force revealed that institutional racism runs rampant within the Chicago Police Department.
The task force was implemented by Mayor Rahm Emanuel following the McDonald shooting as a response to his administration’s perceived indifference to the death of an unarmed black teenager at the hands of a Chicago police officer. The report condemned many parts of the Chicago Police Department and many of the tactics its officers use.
The New York Times reports that the task force found that 74 percent of the people shot by Chicago police officers between 2008 and 2015 were African-American, that 72 percent of all searches that did not lead to arrest were conducted on African-Americans and that about 75 percent of all taser usage by the police were used on African-Americans between 2012 and 2015.
For comparison, Chicago’s demographics are split fairly evenly among caucasians, African-Americans and Hispanics. This means that African-Americans are over 100 percent overrepresented in several crimes analyses by the police in Chicago.
Needless to say, this all comes at an extremely challenging time for Mayor Emanuel politically. With his approval ratings unrecovered from the fallout of the McDonald shooting, the Mayor is in a very delicate place regarding his future at City Hall.
“I think Mayor Emanuel was very sincere when he appointed this commission. I don’t think he has anything to gain by being coy about this,” said Roosevelt University political science professor Paul Green, who spent four years in the Chicago Police Academy.
“The selection of the police superintendent is the number one appointment that a mayor makes. There is no number two after that. More so, the relationship that a mayor keeps with his police force is one of the most important things that he will ever do in office,” Green said. “You see what happens to de Blasio and Garcetti in New York and Los Angeles respectively when they get on the wrong side of their police. It’s a tough act to balance.”
Green also expressed concern for the people caught in the crossfire of the police issue.
“People talk about the police issues, but on top of that you have issues with gangs. Who wants to live in an area like that? It’s dangerous, and it’s just a tough act for Emanuel to pull off,” he said.