Relief over Van Dyke sentencing
The unfairness of the public’a assault of Police Officer Jason Van Dyke and the glorification of Laquan Mcdonald is sickening. It’s not something too many people want to hear, but McDonald’s defenders should be ashamed of themselves Originally Published in The Regional/Reporter Newspapers 1-23-19
By Ray Hanania
How do you explain the Laquan McDonald killing and the trial of Jason Van Dyke to someone who is unfamiliar with the politics, the racist anger and the environment of mass murder that consumes the city of Chicago?
It was another O.J. Simpson moment which once again pitted Blacks against Whites rather than right against wrong and it divided the public once again in an ugly divide of political exploitation, anger and hate.
McDonald was no angel, despite the fact that the news media constantly portrayed him in his graduation gown. And The Chicago Police Officer who shot and killed him, Jason Van Dyke, was no hero or symbol of what the public expects from a guardian of public safety.
The truth is far uglier than even the trial, but depending on which side you are on the truth doesn’t matter.
McDonald was a 17-year-old teenager who was using drugs. Phencyclidine, also called PCP or “Angle Dust” that is associated with violent behavior.
The graduation cap and gown clad teenager had a rough and reckless delinquent past. He was carrying a knife as he walked down the middle of the street in Chicago ignoring warnings from Chicago Police that he should stop and drop his weapon.
Going by what he was hearing on his police car monitor of another street thug, Van Dyke rushed to the scene and seconds after stepping out of his police squad car started shooting. He fired his weapon 16 times killing McDonald.
Van Dyke elevated the issue from McDonald’s threatening street walk with a knife to a crazed police officer who McDonald’s friends and relatives asserted was typical of anti-Black police brutality.
Politicians were stoking the flames of hatred and the racial divide, too, like Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. With total disregard for the safety of the people of Chicagoland, Preckwinkle didn’t hesitate to exploit the killing and Van Dyke trial in her campaign commercials incredulously claiming credit for having forced the police to release the video of McDonald walking down the street and Van Dyke’s firing his weapon at the knife carrying suspect.
I have never seen anything more disgusting in politics than a politician using a police killing of a Black teenager to “empower” her campaign for Chicago Mayor. Instead of trying to bring Chicagoans together, Preckwinkle threw the public under her campaign bus.
No doubt, there were many causes for McDonald’s illegal conduct that night. You could see his mother, who raised him on her own, and his relatives, friends, anti-police activists and Black community leaders all suddenly standing up to demand justice for McDonald. Where were they when he was growing up in a criminal, drugged-up life? Where were they when McDonald needed them to steer him away to the image the Cop-haters claimed was his life of a genius on his way to a promising future that implied that he was college bound but that you know deep down he would probably never get too the way he was conducting his life.
McDonald has become the symbol of “freedom” in a part of Chicago that is plagued by street gang violence and record murders, and the police have been once again brutalized by accusations
Van Dyke has become the symbol of Police Officers Gone Wild, killing teenagers because they are Black in Chicago and evoking outrageous claims from police critics that they can’t trust the police to protect them.
Yet the people screaming about the police live in an environment in which a young person is murdered by street gang violence more than once each day on average in Chicago, and where the police risk their lives everyday to confront these street gang, drugged addled weapon-wielding thugs.
I was sickened as the trial gave voice to racist haters, like the man who claimed he was abused by Van Dyke. Van Dyke pulled a DUI suspect over and when the suspect refused to take a breathalyzer test, the suspect was arrested.
The suspect stuffed a cough drop in his mouth probably thinking it would mitigate his alcohol levels. When he refused orders to spit it out, Van Dyke took it out of his mouth, and was accused of “choking” the suspect because, according to the suspect he was Black and the office was racist.
Turns out the suspect took the breathalyzer test three hours later and recorded a .08. According to the Secretary of State, a driver registering.08 or more is considered in violation of Illinois Law and guilty of DUI.
Van Dyke clearly deserved some jail time for his conduct. It was unprofessional. But to only put the focus on Van Dyke ignoring the significant role that McDonald played in his own death is outrageous and typical of the corruption of our society today.
Sentencing Van Dyke to 81 months was more than fair. But don’t whitewash McDonald’s role in this tragedy. If McDonald had listened to the Police, he would be alive today. And, we wouldn’t be going through another racially-charged, tragic moment in Chicagoland history.
(You can support Jason Van Dyke’s family by clicking this link to the GoFundMe Page set up by one of his lawyers. He deserves your support.)
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Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
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His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.
Email Ray Hanania at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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