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The Mechanics

Democrats Mon Dec 14 2015

Alvarez Headed for Shoals on North Shore

Doings in Evanston this Sunday gave strong indication that State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, in her bid for re-election, is heading for some rocks along the north lakefront of Cook County as perilous as those that occasioned the erection of the historic Grosse Point Lighthouse in the 1800s. Bearing in mind, as an old Danish proverb goes, that it is always dangerous to prophesy, especially about the future, and that that danger is multiplied by trying to use orchestrated political events as tea leaves, the Democratic primary bid of Kimberly Foxx stands to gain a massive boost from both the Chicago wards and suburban townships of the shoreward persuasion.

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Jeff Smith

Op-Ed Mon Dec 07 2015

Chicago Must Acknowledge Patterns of Police Misconduct

By Susan Bandes

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he didn't watch the video of a Chicago police officer shooting a citizen in cold blood because he then couldn't be asked about it. Which is the perfect Chicago move. In fact, it crystallizes the city's longstanding attitude toward police abuses: if nobody has access to information, nobody can be expected to act.

The body that's supposed to be keeping police accountable, the Independent Police Review Authority, does almost nothing to track patterns of police misconduct and brutality. When reviewing a complaint, it does not make inquiries into any previous complaints against the same officer. Although the agency says it now has an early warning system for repeat offenders, that system identified only six percent of the officers with 11 or more complaints.

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Mechanics / Comments (1)

City Council Thu Jul 30 2015

Proposed STOP Act Would Document "Stop & Frisk" in Chicago

There's never a dull day in the Loop. And there's certainly never a dull day at a City Council meeting. Wednesday morning's meeting got off to a running start as protestors of all sorts packed the second floor of the City Hall building outside the council chamber.

They held signs that said things such as "Save Dyett" (a high school slated for closure) and "Mayor Emanuel where's the justice for black children?" Multiple groups were gathered to give press conferences on upcoming ordinances or to express their displeasure with the City Council. They ranged from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Equal Access Across Chicago, We Charge Genocide, Chicago Votes, #ChiStops, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and others.

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Jennifer Prohov

Police Tue Jun 30 2015

Tackling Violence with a Softer Side of Policing

Chicago Police Officer Diana Varga answers questions from children and youth at the Foglia Family and Youth Center in Chicago's East Garfield Park neighborhood. (Photo by Emily Gray Brosious)

When police officers couldn't make it to a scheduled basketball match with youth in the East Garfield Park neighborhood last Wednesday, 11th District Chicago Police Officer Diana Varga swooped in to save the day with an impromptu meet-and-greet of sorts.

Dressed in plain athletic clothes, the outgoing young officer spoke about policing in Chicago to a few dozen people gathered in the gymnasium. Then she opened up for a question and answer session. Children and teens sat cross-legged on the basketball court, eagerly raising their hands to ask Officer Varga about her background, her police work and what it takes to become an officer.

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Emily Brosious

Police Tue May 12 2015

Chicago Mothers March to Remember Children Killed by Police


Panzy Edwards, the mother of 15-year-old Dakota Bright who was killed by Chicago police in 2012, addressed demonstrators Saturday evening before leading a march to the Third District Police Station. (Photo/ Emily Gray Brosious)

A group of mothers protested police violence Saturday evening on the South Side, near the spot where 15-year-old Dakota Bright was fatally shot by Chicago police in 2012.

"My baby was 15 and he was taken away," said Bright's mother, Panzy Edwards. "And the third district cops have no remorse."

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Emily Brosious

Law Fri Mar 27 2015

Loophole for DUI Checkpoints?

duicheckpoint.jpgIn an effort allegedly intended to protect innocent citizens from driving under the influence tickets, a Florida attorney has developed the Fair DUI Flyer.

The flyer, created in September 2013 by Warren Redlich, reads, "I remain silent; no searches; I want my lawyer," and varies state-to-state. Eleven state versions can be found on Redlich's website,

Redlich, a New York attorney now based in Florida, said the flyer was inspired by Fair DUI: Stay Safe and Sane in a World Gone MADD, a book he published because of the experiences he had with clients in drunk driving cases and his desire for a better encounter with police.

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Tesia Galvan / Comments (1)

Police Wed Mar 25 2015

ACLU Report: Chicago Police Use Excessive Stop-and-Frisk on People of Color

Chicago police / Photo by Emily Brosious

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois released findings in a report Monday that show stop-and-frisks by Chicago police disproportionately target people of color -- and justification for these stops frequently fails to meet constitutional standards.

The ACLU also found Chicago far surpasses New York City as the nation's leader in the use of controversial stop-and-frisk procedures.

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Emily Brosious

Police Tue Feb 17 2015

Chicago Organizers Seek Police Torture Reparations

"People's Hearing" on reparations for survivors of police torture at the Chicago Temple. (Photo by Emily Brosious)

Hundreds of people gathered at the Chicago Temple (77 W. Washington St.) Saturday afternoon calling on city council to pass a reparations ordinance for survivors of Chicago Police torture.

Organizers with Amnesty International USA, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Project NIA and We Charge Genocide billed the event as a "People's Hearing" on the impacts of police torture and the need for reparations.

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Emily Brosious

Technology and Politics Mon Jan 12 2015

Evidence Strongly Suggests CPD Illegally Uses Stingray Technology on Protestors

On Black Friday of 2014, Kristiana Rae Colón — a local Chicago artist recently turned organizer — planned a day of action to honor Mike Brown and protest Black Friday spending. Police surveillance was not really on Colón's mind when she organized the protest and march; her aim was to call attention to the connection between the criminalization of black people and the American capitalist system. But a police-scanner recording from that day reveals what seems to be evidence that Chicago police are illegally accessing data from protestors' phones. And in the recording, Colón is the target of this likely surveillance.

"Apparently someone had gotten access to a police scanner recording where it sounds like [an officer] alongside me referring to me being on my phone, and then asking the person at a remote location whether or not they could tell where I was going," explained Colón. "So the implication is that [the officer] was there, seeing me on my phone, and then asking someone else if they could tell from my phone where I was going."

@SPOTNEWSonIG, a Twitter account that live-tweets information from police scanners, overheard the exchange between the officers that Colón references. What follows is an excerpt from their conversation:

Officer 1800: "One of the girls who's kind of an organizer here, she's been on her phone a lot. You guys picking up any information where they're going possibly?
CPIC: "Yeah, we're keeping an eye on it, we'll let you know if we hear anything."

Chicago's Crime Prevention and Information Center (CPIC) is a fusion center, where two or more law enforcement agencies work together to combat "criminal and terrorist activity." The recording strongly suggests that the officer in the field, "officer 1800," was asking someone at CPIC to access content on Colón's phone.

If the CPD were accessing phone content of protesters, they would be using "Stingray" technology to do so. A Stingray device — the commonly used term for an International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catcher — functions as a fake cell tower. It intercepts phone activity as cell phones seek the nearest cell tower, giving law enforcement access to information from any active phones in reach of the device (typically around a 1.5 kilometer radius).

The identity of the officer in the above exchange has been unknown. But another segment of the audio may give a clue as to his identity. On the recording he is referred to as "officer 1800," and another officer, "officer 41," uses his first name:

Officer 41: "Bill, I want to give you a call on your cell."
Dispatcher: "1800, did you copy?"
Officer 1800: "Yeah I did."

When I spoke with Colón, she mentioned that the officer trailing her that day was "Commander Dunn." William Dunn is the commander of the 18th District of Chicago. As Bill is a common nickname for William, this exchange suggests that it was Commander Dunn who saw Colón on her cell and asked remote officers if they could lift information from it.

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Rachel Anspach / Comments (1)

Police Wed Nov 26 2014

Chicago to Ferguson: City Hall Sit-in Turns to Evening March Through the Loop


Chay, an organizer with BYP 100 Chicago, speaks out against police militarization and brutality at a Tuesday evening rally in downtown Chicago. Photo by Emily Brosious.

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in downtown Chicago Tuesday evening to protest a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

The march began around 6:30 p.m., after police ordered protesters off City Hall's fifth-floor, where they had been staging a planned 28-hour sit-in outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.

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Emily Brosious

Op-Ed Wed Oct 02 2013

Chicago's Forgotten End Up at Cook County Jail

Cook County Jail has drawn attention to itself lately for collecting large amounts of Chicago's mentally ill, so much so that it has become the largest mental health facility in Illinois.

The story is particularly inflammatory given Gov. Pat Quinn's corresponding funding cuts to Illinois mental health facilities, and the closing of six Chicago mental health clinics last year.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has been vocal in condemning the incarceration of Chicago's mentally ill, who he says are regularly falling through the cracks of an at-capacity (and underfunded) prison system despite his best efforts to provide therapy and medication to those in need.

"This is a population that people don't care about and so as a result of that there are not the resources out there to care for them," Dart said in an interview on CBS 60 Minutes Sunday night.

In saying this, Dart touches on an even larger issue with the U.S. criminal justice system -- it has become a place for unwanted members of society to collect. Of course, those suffering from mental illnesses are but one group who, as we regretfully phrase it, "fall through the cracks." One could easily add to this list the poor, those with drug or alcohol addictions and a heartily disproportionate number of African-Americans and Hispanics.

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Taylor Long

Police Fri Sep 20 2013

Charges Dropped for Anti-ALEC Activists

As you may recall from an earlier Mechanics post, on August 8th Chicago police officers violently cracked down on activists protesting the American Legislative Executive Council (ALEC) outside the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago.

Those who witnessed the incident said they saw officers rush a group of protesters and aggressively arrest targeted individuals in the crowd. They said the attack came without warning and did not appear provoked. Six protesters were arrested and charged with various offenses.

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Emily Brosious / Comments (2)

Police Tue Aug 13 2013

Why Did Chicago Police Attack ALEC Protesters?

Photo by Justin Carlson, via The Anti-Media

Thousands of activists, union and faith group members, and concerned citizens rallied outside the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago this past Thursday to protest the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose 40th anniversary conference was being held inside the hotel.

Demonstrators picketed around the block for about an hour, then gathered at a soundstage to hear speakers including Rev. Jesse Jackson address the crowd. Closing remarks from a Chicago Federation of Labor representative thanked the Fraternal Order of Police for protecting the crowd and asked everyone to leave. A majority of union members, many from out-of-town, did leave at the CFL's request. However, a smaller group of anti-ALEC activists and citizens stayed put to continue on with the protest.

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Emily Brosious

Police Tue May 07 2013

South Suburban Chronicles

The tarnished legacy of indicted community officials no longer lies in Chicago ranks but has indeed spread to the south suburban areas of Cook County. Three villages are now victim of the all too familiar spirit of greed and exploitation that infests those in leadership. After the embarrassing episode of Jesse Jackson, Jr. that shattered the 2nd congressional district, three south suburban towns face again the deception and humiliation from community officials.

Most recently, former Crestwood Police Chief Theresa Neubauer was found guilty of 11 counts of purposely reciting false claims to environmental regulators. As Crestwood water head, she repeatedly lied to state regulators about the quality of the village's water that was chemically altered. She claims two other individuals including former longtime Mayor Chester Stanczek are guilty of the tainted water scheme that possibly harmed the 11,000 residents. Neubauer also implies both were well-aware of vinyl chloride remnants in water that was used for 22 years until 2007. Neubauer possibly faces that maximum of five years in prison and $250,000 fine for each count. Even after nearly seven hours of deliberation, the mother of four still proclaims her innocence. "I suppose today I have to say I am the unfortunate person that the village of Crestwood hired when I was an 18-year-old girl," said Neubauer. She resigned from her post May 2.

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Sydney Corryn / Comments (1)

Federal Government Wed May 01 2013

What Were Once Vices

The summer of 1974 is memorable not only for the release of a Doobie Brothers' LP that with its hit "Black Water" would form a soundtrack for much of the coming year, but also for the resignation of Richard Nixon. As Mechanics' attorney-in-residence, and possibly the only writer here who remembers dancing to either of the aforesaid, and as a nod to Law Day, I agreed to cover the forum last night at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics in Hyde Park featuring current and past U.S. Attorneys General Eric Holder and John Ashcroft. Moderated by former Chicago law school dean Geoffrey Stone, the event highlighted the publication of Restoring Justice: The Speeches of Attorney General Edward Levi, by Jack Fuller. Fuller, former Chicago Tribune editor and publisher, interrupted his long journalism career to serve as an assistant to Edward H. Levi during Levi's stint as the country's top lawyer during the Ford Administration.

That 1975 appointment, of course, plucking Levi from the presidency of the University of Chicago, was a direct response to a national crisis in confidence in the Justice Department specifically, and in government generally. Watergate and related scandals saw lawyer-President Nixon impeached and resign, two of Levi's predecessors as Attorney General convicted of perjury, and the White House counsel plead guilty to obstruction of justice. Fuller's book debuts amidst the 40th anniversary of the scandals, cover-ups, shocking revelations, and legal-political drama that overshadowed much else in the nation in 1972-74. Since some of the same themes that then gripped the U.S. reverberate today -- electronic surveillance of Americans, bombings abroad ordered by the executive branch, and the power of the Presidency itself -- the forum held promise of potential fireworks and relevancy. The Institute did a pro job at logistics and presentation, and, let's be clear, is not required to offer all points of view. Unfortunately, what could have been more provocative ended up, by virtue of lack of balance, as a soft promo for continued perpetual war and expanded executive branch power, with only nods of concern to clampdown on civil liberties and ever-eroding privacy. I have to wonder if that's what Edward Levi would have wanted.

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Jeff Smith

Anthony Abbate Jr. Fri Dec 07 2012

Intervention Allowed in Bar Beating Case

anthony abbate jr civil trialBy Julia Gray

Two lawyers who handle cases of police misconduct were given the go ahead by a federal judge on Friday to intervene on behalf of the public good to stop the City of Chicago's attempt to have the "code of silence" judgment of the notorious videotaped assault on a bartender by an off-duty Chicago police officer vacated.

The City of Chicago argued that the case as it stands would be detrimental to the public, taxpayers and the city, because it would open the floodgates of litigation against the City and the police department. City attorney Scott Jebson argued that the "risks of misusing the judgement in future cases" could be costly.

"We don't want the judgment improperly used," Jebson said.

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Anthony Abbate Jr. Wed Nov 14 2012

The Anthony Abbate, Jr. Civil Trial: And This Verdict Means What Now?

anthony abbate jr civil trialBy Julia Gray

When a federal jury on Tuesday found in favor of Karolina Obrycka and found the City of Chicago and Anthony Abbate, Jr. responsible, and awarded her $850,000 in compensatory damages, Obrycka said she was glad that justice had been served.

Her plans now are to get on with her life and put the incident behind her, her lawyer Gustavo Munoz said. Munoz added that she's still terrified of Abbate, even though she hasn't had any contact with him except during legal proceedings. In fact, she's terrified of the police and of men she doesn't know, Munoz said.

"She'll only deal with cops in a public setting with other people around," Munoz added.

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Anthony Abbate Jr. Wed Nov 07 2012

Anthony Abbate, Jr. Civil Trial: Summation of the Summations

anthony abbate jr civil trialBy Julia Gray

Holding up a DVD of the infamous bar beat-down as a reference, the plaintiff's attorney, Pat Provenzale, stated that the city "came this close to walking away from getting one of the biggest black eyes in its history."

During the next two very long hours, Provenzale discussed the case at length against both the City of Chicago and Anthony Abbate, Jr., reiterating how there is allegedly a code of silence ensconced within the police department and how that code was enacted immediately following the attack on Karolina Obrycka by then-police officer Abbate in February 2007. The second part of the suit claims that Obrycka's First Amendment rights were violated when Abbate and his friends allegedly attempted to block her from releasing the video of her attack, which, if released, could damage the reputations of both the police department and Abbate.

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Anthony Abbate Jr. Mon Nov 05 2012

Anthony Abbate, Jr. Civil Trial Roundup

anthony abbate jr civil trialBy Julia Gray

During the past two weeks, the Anthony Abbate, Jr. civil trial has kept an audience of three to 15 people riveted with sparkling testimony peppered with more answers of "I don't recall" and more sidebars than seemed humanly possible. What was presented that wasn't dull was mounds and mounds of evidence — or not — depending on which side you're on.

The focus of this trial is whether or not a code of silence was at play immediately following the incident at Jesse's Shortstop Inn in February 2007.

We've heard the testimony of both the main people in this trial: Anthony Abbate, Jr. and Karolina Obrycka. Also, we've heard the testimony of friends and former coworkers of Abbate, which caused a few watching to ponder why the former Chicago police officer had such lousy friends.

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Mechanics / Comments (1)

Police Mon Nov 05 2012

The Latest Crime-Fighting Strategy: Stop CAPS

The Chicago Police Department is ending CAPS.

Also known as the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy. The Chicago Reader reports the city will be slowly zeroing out the budget for CAPS over the next year according to the recent city budget testimony from Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. This announcement came shortly before Chicago hit another grim milestone in a particularly bloody year of violence in the city. The homicide total for this year, with two more months to go, has just passed the total for all of 2011. Though homicide has been down for October, it's too early to tell if Chicago has finally found the right formula to reduce the murder epidemic. All year we've been told by Mayor Emanuel, McCarthy and other city officials that new policing strategies and policies are working in spite of the yearlong violence. With a constant media cycle reporting on daily shootings, it's difficult to say if we are in fact, making progress.

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Christopher Jones

Anthony Abbate Jr. Mon Oct 29 2012

Anthony Abbate, Jr. Civil Trial, Day 6: Police Expert & the Plaintiff Take the Stand

anthony abbate jr civil trialBy Julia Gray

Former Los Angeles Police Officer/Sergeant/Lieutenant/Commander and finally Deputy Chief of Police and now police misconduct expert, Lou Reiter, testified today in the Obrycka vs. The City of Chicago and Anthony Abbate, Jr. civil trial. Reiter has worked all over Los Angeles in the LAPD and at one point oversaw roughly 1,500 officers. Also during his long career with the LAPD, he investigated employee misconduct within the force. He made disciplinary recommendations, aided in setting up a standards and practices guideline for the force that was eventually a model for all police departments in the US. Reiter was employed by the LAPD from 1961 to 1981, and then he moved to Tallahassee, FL in 1983 to become a police consultant.

In other words, it's safe to say that Reiter knows the police business. So far, he's the plaintiff's most important witness since he's a big believer that code of silence exists within the Chicago Police Department. What about this case stuck in Reiter's craw? Well, he wasn't too fond of the time not long after the attack when two investigators showed up at Obrycka's house with a blank misdemeanor battery arrest report for her to sign. Oh and the cops leaving Jesse's Shortstop Inn the night of the incident without even looking at the video tape bugged Reiter, too. The 22 days when none of Abbate's bosses had a clue as to where he was wasn't a good thing either, according to Reiter.

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Anthony Abbate Jr. Fri Oct 26 2012

Anthony Abbate, Jr. Civil Trial, Day 4, Part 2 and Day 5: Searching for Jack McCoy

anthony abbate jr civil trialby Julia Gray

Thursday, Day 4 Continued

Turns out that Anthony Abbate's childhood friend, city truck driver Gary Ortiz, is a self-proclaimed "phone-aholic." He's also friends with Patti Chiriboga and Abbate's girlfriend Linda Burnickas, and he used to dig on hanging out at Jesse's Shortstop Inn. In fact, he liked Jesse's so much, he ended up there the night of the incident right after it happened. No, he wasn't summoned by either Abbate or Chiriboga, he heard it on his police scanner that the cops were at the bar doing a "license check."

That makes me want a scanner too, but I hear they're tough to come by these days.

A "license check" you ask? Yes, according to Ortiz who heard the term from his pal Abbate, whenever cops are called to a bar for whatever reason, it's protocol to make sure the establishment's liquor license is up to date because if it isn't, it could spell a whole lot of ick for the owners. I mean, they'd then have to figure out which palms to grease in order to update the license, see. (Fortunately for Jesse's, the license was good to go.)

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Anthony Abbate Jr. Thu Oct 25 2012

Anthony Abbate Civil Trial, Day 4 Part 1: That's What She Said ...Maybe

anthony abbate jr civil trialBy Julia Gray

Today is one of those days where it's best to work backwards and break it up into two stories because, yes, this particular part of the tale of woe is a definite two-parter.

The day ended with the testimony of fellow bartender and Linda Tripp look-a-like for the aughts, Patti Chiriboga. Or rather, both Mr. Ekl and Ms. Rubens, attorneys for the plaintiff and the City respectively, read her March 2007 grand jury testimony back to Chiriboga to which today's responses varied from "If you say so, yes" to "I don't recall" to "Yes" to "I guess so."

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Anthony Abbate Jr. Tue Oct 23 2012

Anthony Abbate Civil Trial, Day 2: Code of Silence -- Fact or Fiction?

anthony abbate jr civil trialBy Julia Gray

The crux of the Karolina Obrycka's case against the City of Chicago and Anthony Abbate, Jr. revolves around the "code of silence" that allegedly permeates the Chicago Police Department.

Sounds like the stuff great fictional crime novels are made of, right?

According to experts, this code does exist — but it is not unique to law enforcement. It's common in all professions, says Dennis Waller, a police practices consultant and expert witness from Brookfield, WI.

"There is academic research that supports this contention as well as judicial research. There is a tendency within professions to take care of your own," Waller says. Waller, a former police officer, has been a consultant since 1988.

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Mechanics / Comments (2)

Anthony Abbate Jr. Mon Oct 22 2012

Court Report: Anthony Abbate, Jr. Civil Trial, Day 1

anthony abbate jr civil trialBy Julia Gray

"He was a man, in a bar, getting drunk."

Anthony Abbate Jr. said he felt threatened by Karolina Obrycka when he pummeled and threw her around Jesse's Shortstop Inn in Chicago on February 19, 2007. But, as City attorney Matthew Hurd explained at the beginning of Abbate's civil trial today, he doesn't remember because he was drunk.

But, on the same night roughly around the time Obrycka was about to get her beat-down, Abbate does remember moving a barstool from one side of the bar to the other because it was more comfortable than the stools on that side of the bar. But he doesn't remember punching his friend three times, according to Abbate's testimony today.

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Police Tue May 29 2012

Mayor and Police Chief Roll Out Gang-Reduction Strategy

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy detailed a gang-reduction strategy at a press conference Tuesday.

"Very clearly, we have a gang problem in the city of Chicago," said McCarthy. He then went on to detail a strategy that involves the mapping of gang intelligence, which will be available to police officers in their patrol cars.

"It includes the monitoring of social media," McCarthy said, stating that gangs often communicate using Twitter and Facebook.

Using police intelligence on gangs, officers can look into a gang-related violent incident, predict where retaliation might occur and respond appropriately.

Mayor Emanuel referred to the success of the recent crackdown on liquor stores that attract gang violence, which he refers to as a "cancer on the community."

Four liquor stores have already been shut down, and there are 30 more that could have their license revoked.

"All of us have to be on the frontline of this issue," said Emanuel.

Tyler Davis / Comments (5)

Police Fri Nov 04 2011

Residents Rally to Save 13th District Police Station

In an attempt to close the Chicago's budget gap, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) announced that three district stations are being considered for closure. Among these stations is the 13th district station at 937 N. Wood St. and the proposed closure of that particular station has prompted residents who live in the district to join together to save the station.

In response to the proposed closing, a group of residents led by Anne Shaw have joined together to create Save the Wood Street Station.

"We have the second lowest number of beat officers in all of the 25 districts and we have a higher crime rate than the 12th district," Shaw said, referring to the district the 13th district would hypothetically be merged with.

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Monica Reida

Police Wed May 11 2011

Reserve Judgment On New CPD Super

Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel announced his selection of Newark's Garry McCarthy for the top post in the Chicago Police Department a week ago, and only a few days later, the Department of Justice announced it would be investigating structural and on-going violations of civil and human rights by the Newark Police Department. The investigation is the result of a comprehensive petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Jersey. (For copies of the ACLU's cover letter and petition, see below the jump).

After Emanuel's selection of embattled Rochester schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, this revelation could prompt some reasonable speculation as to whether McCarthy was the best choice to lead a department that has regularly been accused of insensitivity to human and civil rights. But while the fact of the investigation warrants scrutiny, judgment of McCarthy himself should be withheld until the nature of the ACLU's allegations are better understood.

The petition is enormous, coming with a supplement (also included below). The ACLU alleges that the problems are structural, and go back decades; McCarthy has been leading the NPD since 2006, so the relevant inquiry is not whether there were problems under his supervision, but rather whether those problems decreased, or whether there were affirmative steps to address those problems during his time leading the department.

This is an important distinction between Brizard and McCarthy: Brizard's tenure in Rochester was characterized not only by an apparent unwillingness to work with important stakeholders, but also little to no evidence of improvement of results. This overall picture raises serious questions about what exactly endorses Brizard for his promotion to head of one of the largest school districts in the country (CPS has twice as many students as Rochester has residents). The DOJ investigation says nothing about the potential improvement under McCarthy.

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Ramsin Canon

Police Wed Mar 23 2011

Humboldt Park Residents React to WBEZ Video of "Questionable" CPD Actions

WBEZ broke a big story yesterday, releasing a video that appears to show two Chicago Police Department officers engaging in what the station describes as "questionable" behavior. Standing outside a squad car, the officers allow a large group of men to gather closely around the open back door to hurl insults as well as apparent gang signs and slogans at another man, who is visibly shaken, in the back of the cruiser.

The radio station posted the story yesterday, showing the tape along with some words by staffers Steve Edwards and Robert Wildeboer and the station's Pritzker Fellow Samuel Vega, who first found the clip. (Watch the video at WBEZ's site.)

Vega says he first came across the video on Facebook. Assuming it would be quickly pulled, he ripped the video, downloading it to his computer. As he predicted, the video and the user account did disappear within a few days--leaving Vega the only one known to have a copy of the tape besides its original owner.

The CPD responded to WBEZ's request for comment late last night:

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Micah Uetricht / Comments (4)

Police Tue Nov 23 2010

On Police Redeployment

Progress Illinois provides your must-read for today heading into the early skirmishing stages of policy debate this election season:

This is a subject Chicago has long avoided; redeploying police officers away from safer to more dangerous areas is a political Rubix cube. Tax-paying residents of quiet blocks are skeptical about seeing resources taken from their neighborhoods, Dumke found. "I can see a car or two being pulled to help for a special event -- let's say if the Cubs win the World Series and they need some extra police over at Wrigley Field," Ald. Pat Levar, who represents the far Northwest Side's 45th Ward, said in the News Cooperative piece. "But our community pays taxes, and they deserve police protection, too." Northwest Side Ald. Margaret Laurino (39th Ward) expressed a similar sentiment.

Weis apparently sees things a bit differently. Some police districts, he told aldermen at the October 19 budget hearing, "have an additional number of police officers above and beyond what analysis has proven they actually need. So we can move some of those officers to a district where analysis has shown they need some more." Here he is describing his ideas for redeployment on a Fox Chicago news program about a month ago:

Go read the whole thing.

Ramsin Canon

Media Mon Sep 20 2010

Around the City Reads

Some good stuff to catch up on this morning:

CBS 2: Daley Mentored Others as He Shaped Chicago: But he's still "absolutely the best mayor in the country," Berry said. "Nationally there's no question he's been probably one of the most successful and important big-city mayors in the last couple decades."

Progress Illinois: Shift Expected at CAPS: The ground continues to shift at the Chicago Police Department. On Thursday, outgoing Mayor Richard Daley said he wanted civilians rather than uniformed police officers to run the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) program. Ron Holt, the CAPS director, told the Tribune that too many of the 200 to 300 officers assigned to CAPS were doing administrative and civilian tasks. Many are expected to be reassigned to patrol work.

In These Times Working Blog: Hotel Quickie Strikes Build Union, Workers' Determination for Contract Battles: Workers in Chicago, like most of these cities, are responding with overwhelming strike authorization votes, protest rallies, sit-ins and civil disobedience, campaigns to persuade organizations and individuals to boycott certain hotels, and-last week-a planned one-day strike against hotel union UNITE HERE's national target, Hyatt, in four cities.

People of Color Organize!: Solidarity With Whittier School Occupation: The Whittier Parents' Committee has been organizing for seven years to push Pilsen alderman Daniel Solis to allocate some of the estimated $1 billion in Mayor Daley's TIF coffers to their school for a school expansion - he finally agreed to give $1.4million of TIF funds for school renovation. Cynically, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has earmarked a part of this money for the destruction of the school's field house, which has been used for years as a center for community organizing and services. This would directly undermine the ability of the Whittier community to organize and struggle for educational rights. Parents are demanding to be part of the decision-making process.

Austin Talks: March against violence challenges community to fight back: Graham urged residents to take a stand against gun, gang and domestic violence. Rev. Jennie Jones of Pleasant Ridge Missionary Baptist Church led the group in prayer and pleaded for strength in the fight against violence plaguing Austin.

Chicago Union News: Adjunct faculty at Chicago college cries foul while trying to organize: With only a few weeks until fall classes begin, some part-time instructors at East-West University in Chicago's South Loop are still waiting to see if they will be hired back to teach after what has been a "messy" summer-long conflict involving efforts to unionize.

Ramsin Canon

City Council Wed Apr 14 2010

Anthony Beale (9th) Named to Head Police Committee

Ninth Ward Alderman Anthony Beale has been named to head the important Police and Fire, a post left vacant when 29th Ward Alderman Ike Carothers resigned after pleading guilty to accepting bribes for zoning changes.

Beale is an ally of the Jackson family political organization and a generally loyal Daley vote. Beale is hotly pursuing a certain big box store in his ward.

Interestingly, Beale's scant Wikipedia entry contains this line,

Beale voted himself and his fellow 49 Alderman a 6% pay raise, yet denies the police a pay raise. Beale in a media interview requested that some benefits be stripped from police.

added by a an anonymous user on 07 August of last year. This doesn't seem to appear in the "Aldermanic careers" of any other Chicago aldermen.

The Chair of the Police and Fire Committee has responsibility for civilian oversight of the Police Department, and can exert extraordinary pressure on the Department through specification of spending priorities and periodic hearings of Department leadership. Of course, traditionally the Chair of that Committee defers to the Mayor on big picture Department issues.

Ramsin Canon

Police Wed Mar 31 2010

Marvin Reeves is Free

There are very few injustices worse than the wrongful imprisonment of an innocent person--and the loss of decades of their life in incarceration. Reading the brutal story of Marvin Reeves, tortured by Jon Burge and friends into a false confession and stuffed in prison for nearly 25 years, the moral certitude of the maxim that it is better to let a hundred guilty men go free than to punish one innocent man is plainly self-evident.

MARVIN TELLS me to pull into an alley, and we get out of the car. He points to a boarded-up window of another large brick apartment complex. "This was where the bedroom was," he says. "It was my sister Sonya's apartment, and I stayed there sometimes. I worked just around the block at a mechanic's shop, and I would come here and park my car right here, outside the bedroom window, so I could see the car."

He goes back in time to the day--August 26, 1988:

It was 4 o'clock in the morning when the cops knocked on the door, and my sister Sonya went to answer it. She unlocked the door, but before she could open it, they busted the door in and broke her toe.

She started screaming--that's what woke me up. The next thing I knew, there were two cops at my bedroom door, guns drawn and pointing at me, yelling, "Nigger, if you move, I'll blow your fucking brains out." I had no idea what was going on.

Continue reading this entry »

Ramsin Canon

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Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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