Was This the Straw?
- Years from now, it might be seen as the moment Chicago might have been saved but wasn’t. “They could have changed things,” people will say. “They could have stood up to the people bringing the city down.” But as it happened, there is little to do but wait to see how far into the deeper and darker abysses of Hell Chicago will descend.
[...] Playing the pivotal role in our sad tale is one Shaquille O’Neal. No, not the former NBA star; the Shaquille O’Neal of our story is 23 years old and a recent parolee from prison. On June 13, plainclothes police officers saw O’Neal engaged in what they took to be a drug transaction. When they tried to stop him, he ran, only to be caught in the 3900 block of West Grenshaw Street. Several people sympathetic to O’Neal were there, some of whom filmed the altercation on their cell phones. One of those videos was soon posted to Facebook. (Warning: coarse language.) What happened next followed the same tiresome script we have come to expect: Neighborhood thug gets caught breaking the law, resists arrest, gets roughed up on video, then is hoisted onto the martyr’s pedestal to be hailed as a hero and a symbol of the continuing black struggle against institutional racism and on and on and on.
- Do not be fooled. There was nothing illegal or even remotely improper in the way O’Neal was subdued at the end of the foot pursuit. Let’s examine the video. As it begins, a lone officer is atop O’Neal in the middle of the street. As the two struggle, several people can be heard shouting their encouragement to O’Neal and their condemnation of the officer. (And it’s interesting to note that the video, like so many others like it, shows only the most inflammatory portion of the incident.) A second officer then arrives in an unmarked SUV. As he exits the car he can see that the fight is at an apparent stalemate and that the greater threat is posed by the approaching crowd. He orders the crowd to get back and calls for backup, but when he turns around he can now see that the fight has suddenly shifted in O’Neal’s favor. O’Neal, who seconds earlier appeared to be under control or nearly so, now has his arm locked out with a firm grip on the officer’s neck. The second officer then delivers a single kick to O’Neal’s head, essentially ending the fight – and beginning the circus we’ve come to expect.
- In short, a good arrest and a reasonable use of force – nothing that the brass of the Chicago Police Department couldn’t have justified to the media if they but had the courage to do so. What happened next provided a vivid example of the moral inversion that grips America, nowhere more egregiously than it does in Chicago. O’Neal was released from jail without charges, and the officer who kicked him was stripped of his police powers and placed on desk duty. A local rabble rouser known as Ja’Mal D. Green boasted on Facebook that he had called Chicago P.D. Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who informed him of the pending action against the officer.
Reaction among Chicago’s cops was swift and blistering. A post on the matter at the Second City Cop blog garnered nearly 300 comments, most from cops expressing their disgust and their diminishing desire to do the kind of police work required to lower Chicago’s appalling level of crime. Upon his release, O’Neal celebrated with his family and other supporters, all of whom must have had visions of the riches soon to be lavished upon O’Neal as compensation for his suffering. He has hired an attorney, of course, who surely must be dreaming of his own substantial payday.
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