News of Chicago cops’ surveillance on political groups is nothing new. Back when Richard J. Daley was mayor, the Red Squad got diverted from suspected subversives to political opponents.
An incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney has not been defeated in a primary since at least 1896. There is a message there: Anita Alvarez should resign now.
I’m not sure which offends me more — a naked falsehood that Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez propounded in a letter to the editor published in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune or the newspaper’s naked irresponsibility in letting her get away with it.
I refer to the incontrovertible fact that police officers lie under oath with impunity — and with full knowledge and tacit support of Alvarez, her predecessors, and myriad present and former assistant state’s attorneys in contravention of their sworn duty to uphold the law.
Here are some lessons we are learning the hard way:
There are too many instances of police shootings. The Washington Post has been keeping count: Almost 1,000 this year, and counting. Forty-one involved unarmed black men. Policemen too often have to make split-second decisions when they come upon situations, and determine if there are people, including themselves, at risk. Making that decision can be horrendously difficult; and a wrong decision can be lethal, either to themselves, innocent third parties, or to the suspects they encounter.
If you missed it, we recommended in #injusticereads a powerful article detailing the difficulty of rape prosecutions, centered around the wrongful conviction of a young woman who was criminally convicted based on allegations she had falsely claimed rape. The work was the product of Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller, two excellent reporters at, respectively, The Marshall Project and ProPublica. Now, a postscript: the editors of those sites explain how the project came to be, and it says a lot about the new world of journalism. In the old days, news organization were driven by competition, by being first, by getting “the scoop.” In the new days, as news organizations have shrunk their budgets and appetites for deep investigative projects, an increasing number of non-profits (including, of course, Injustice Watch) are sprouting up to fill the landscape.
The mistrust of the Criminal Division stems from a dysfunctional judicial-selection system under which Cook County voters put judges on the bench with virtually no information predictive of their ability or inclination to exercise judicial power responsibly.