What Can Chicago Learn From Baltimore?

Could Chicago see the kind of angst viewed in Baltimore last month and Ferguson last year? One Illinois professor says racially charged civil unrest and dissatisfaction with police in Chicago might be inevitable.

Brian T. Murphy writes:

Most people agree that violence is not a reasonable means to achieving social change. But the unrest that transpired last week in Baltimore after the police-induced death of Freddie Gray -- albeit misplaced -- should not come as a surprise to us. It was readily predictable. This violence, though unjustified, was not unprovoked.

One night of civil unrest and one week of peaceful protests ensued when 25-year-old Freddie Gray died while in police custody. Freddie was handcuffed, shackled at the feet, placed in a police van unrestrained, and at some point suffered a severed spinal cord. Six officers are currently charged with a variety of crimes related to his death.

Of course, this unrest is not really about Freddie Gray. Freddie's death simply unleashed previously existing outrage in Baltimore, and once again exposed a pattern of policing that has consistently violated civil liberties.

Law enforcement is running out of excuses to justify why unarmed black civilians are dying at the hands of its officers: Either the victim was resisting arrest, or he was running, or he resembled the description of a dangerous man, or police thought he had a knife, or he looked suspicious. We have even reached the point where some now claim that a shackled black kid severed his own spinal cord.

A problem that seems to be amplified greatly in Baltimore is that mostly white, but also black human beings in police uniforms are put in a position of incredible authority, while they have operated in a vacuum of accountability.

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois.

Chicago also has another kind of problem on its hands: The increasing cost of the city's debt, as Moody's credit rating service downgrades the city's credit rating to "junk." The agency said the new rating came amid worries about the city's pension systems, for which the mayor now might have a harder time finding reforms after the Illinois Supreme Court deemed the state's pension reform law unconstitutional. Moody's suggested the city raise its taxes to deal with its financial difficulties, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel says not so fast. Read more at Reboot Illinois.