Last December, Kalven and Futterman issued a statement revealing the existence of a dash-cam video and calling for its release. Kalven tracked down a witness to the shooting, who said he and other witnesses had been “shooed away” from the scene with no statements or contact information taken.
In February, Kalven obtained a copy of McDonald’s autopsy, which contradicted the official story that McDonald had died of a single gunshot to the chest. In fact, he’d been shot 16 times—as Van Dyke unloaded his service revolver, execution style—while McDonald lay on the ground.
The next month, the City Council approved a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, whose attorneys had obtained the video. They said it showed McDonald walking away from police at the time of the shooting, contradicting the police story that he was threatening or had “lunged at” cops. The settlement included a provision keeping the video confidential.
“The real issue here is, this terrible thing happened, how did our governmental institutions respond?” Kalven said. “And from everything we’ve learned, compulsively at every level, from the cops on the scene to the highest levels of government, they responded by circling the wagons and by fabricating a narrative that they knew was completely false.” To him this response is “part of a systemic problem” and preserves “the underlying conditions that allow abuse and shield abuse.”
And everybody is urging “the black community” to remain calm, as if “the black community” shot a guy 16 times while he lay on the ground. The state’s attorney, during her press conference, mentioned “a few bad apples” to assuage the ONLY COPS MATTER crowd, not that anything will:
Anita Alvarez said, “We are listening. We are here…There are bad apples (within CPD) who break the law & go too far.” #LaquanMcDonald
— Rummana Hussain (@rummanahussain) November 24, 2015
Which is beyond the point. Which is about 400 miles beyond the point. Of course there are bad apples who go too far and break the law. The point is that the law is then supposed to stop them. The law is not then supposed to delete security video from a nearby Burger King, intimidate witnesses, buy silence, and then act as if its sacred honor is being impugned when called on its shit.
“This was an incredible test of leadership, a major challenge to [Emanuel’s] leadership,” Kalven said. “Think how different the situation would be right now if the city had acknowledged the reality of what happened in the days or weeks after it happened. That would have built confidence.”
And instead of vague and politically self-serving calls for “healing,” it could have begun a real process of accountability of the kind necessary to start addressing the extreme alienation between police and wide segments of our communities.
Instead, with only Van Dyke indicted, it looks like he’s being sacrificed in order to protect the system that created him.
Any entrenched power structure will protect itself, first last and always. This is one of those rules of the world that once you see it, you see the strings that suspend everything, and you never ask how could this happen.
How could this happen, when you make a club, tell everyone in it they are virtuous in ways those outside it are not, create oaths of allegiance and make people swear them, create secret rituals and forbid talking about them, cloak your daily activities in the language of the wars of civilizations and make it plain the penalty for questioning this entire bucketload of bullshit is ostracization from what you have become convinced is the only family that truly cares for you?
How could this happen? How could it not? The Catholic Church, Penn State, political parties that hide members’ malfeasance, universities that chastise rape victims … they’re all power protecting itself. How could this happen? It happens over and over, all the time, and once you see it you see it everywhere. It happened in this case. It happened here.