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26 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Police Brutality

President’s comments chime with Hillary Clinton’s lament for ‘loss of so many young African Americans’ as Chicago braces for more demonstrations

Dashcam video footage showing the killing of a black teenager by a police officer was released on Tuesday. The video captures the final moments before 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times. The Chicago police officer involved in the shooting has been charged with first-degree murder

WARNING: This video contains graphic content that some viewers may find distressing

President Obama has said he was “deeply disturbed by the footage of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald” in a Facebook message in which he also thanked the people of Chicago for their peaceful protests.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has also plunged into the heated debate following the release of a video showing the black teenager being shot multiple times by a Chicago police officer, saying: “We cannot go on like this.”

She also put the death in a national context, lamenting “the loss of so many young African Americans taken too soon” in a statement released on Twitter as Chicago continued to simmer in the wake of protests on the night the video was made public.

The city is braced for further demonstrations over the footage of 17-year-old Laquan being gunned down as he jaywalked near law enforcement, and a white Chicago officer was charged with murder in connection with the death.

“The family of Laquan McDonald and the people of Chicago deserve justice and accountability,” Clinton said.

She added that the country needed to grapple with broader questions.

“The mothers I met recently in Chicago are right: we cannot go on like this. All over America, there are police officers honorably doing their duty, demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from and build on those examples,” she said………………

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Jason Van Dyke faced no disciplinary action on known outcomes of complaints, which reflects a larger pattern in Chicago police department, database reveals

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Chicago police officers line up outside headquarters on Tuesday during protests for Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot by Jason Van Dyke last October. Photograph: Paul Beaty/AP

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who has been charged with murder in the 2014 shooting death of a black teenager, had 20 allegations of misconduct filed against him, according to an independent database of police complaints.

The database, created by non-profit journalism group Invisible Institute, includes records of 10 complaints about the use of excessive force by the officer, and other allegations including “improper search of person” and “improper search of vehicle”.

Of the 14 complaints in the database where the outcome of the allegation was known, none resulted in disciplinary action. That fits with a broader pattern revealed by the database – of the 56,361 allegations of misconduct made against Chicago police department officers just 4%, or 2,277, were sustained.

On Tuesday, Van Dyke, a 14-year veteran of the force, was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Laquan McDonald, 17, on 20 October 2014. Hours later, dashcam footage of the shooting was released, raising tensions in the city.

The database, called the Citizens Police Data Project, was created from Freedom of Information Act (Foia) requests made to the Chicago police department, as part of a more than decade-long collaboration with the University of Chicago Law School’s Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. It’s largely made up of three datasets which cover the period 2002 to 2008 and 2011 to 2015, but continues to be regularly updated in response to individual requests.

Searching for Van Dyke’s name in the database produces records of 20 allegations of misconduct, though details are only available on allegations from 2010 onwards. He joined the force on 25 June 2001.

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A separate Foia request made by Ed Nance, who was violently handcuffed by officers during a traffic stop in 2007, showed 15 allegations made against Van Dyke.

For some of the allegations in the database, further detail is available. On 23 January 2013, an allegation was made of verbal abuse that was “racial/ethnic” in nature. The final outcome was “no action taken”. About two months later, on 19 March 2013, an allegation was made by a black male that Van Dyke used excessive force. The allegation, one of 10 complaints about the use of excessive force by the officer, was not sustained and again no action was taken.

Normally, the Guardian would verify the figures in the Invisible Institute database against published records from the Chicago police department. That is difficult, however, given the opacity of official sources which are published without Foia requests. Though incomplete, the database offers a snapshot of complaints against Chicago police.

A summary of the database shows that black individuals are much less likely than white individuals to make successful complaints: black people filed 61% of the complaints in the database, and white people filed 21% of the complaints; but of the complaints that were upheld, only 25% were filed by black people, while 58% were filed by white people…………………

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Members of the city of Chicago’s Black Caucus on Wednesday called for the resignation of Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy following the release of dashcam video showing the deadly shooting of a black teenager in 2014

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Family members and Black Lives Matter protesters says ‘justice will be found’ on day of tribute to man who was killed in Minneapolis by police 10 days ago

Family members and community leaders renewed their calls for justice at the funeral of Jamar Clark, the unarmed black man shot and killed by police officers 10 days ago in Minneapolis.

James Hill, Clark’s eldest brother, told the mourners at the Shiloh Temple church on Wednesday that Mayor Betsy Hodges had sent a note expressing her condolences, and apologising for her absence.

“I’ve got one message for her,” he said. “We don’t want her to overdo her job. We don’t want her to underdo her job. We just want her to do her job. If she’s for this city, justice will be found.”……………

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More than a year later, death of Laquan McDonald haunts streets of Chicago

Chicago did not explode in the wake of another black youngster’s death but activists are planning city’s ‘largest window shopping protest’ for Black Friday

Protesters commemorate Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer.

Protesters commemorate Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer. Photograph: Zuma Wire/Rex Shutterstock

There’s a small memorial of candles, flowers and a sign at the intersection of 41st and Pulaski Street in Chicago where 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by veteran cop James Van Dyke.

However, the seemingly never-ending traffic on the now infamous four-lane road that McDonald crossed on 20 October 2014 before being gunned down doesn’t slow its pace to acknowledge the tragedy that happened more than 400 days ago and is now thrust into a global spotlight.

Local residents carry on with their lives on the gloomy Chicago winter day as they prepare for the holiday weekend, and shrug at what many thought would push Chicago to mimic riots seen in Baltimore or Ferguson, Missouri, over the past year………………

Protesters commemorate Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer. Photograph: Zuma Wire/Rex Shutterstock

There’s a small memorial of candles, flowers and a sign at the intersection of 41st and Pulaski Street in Chicago where 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by veteran cop James Van Dyke.

However, the seemingly never-ending traffic on the now infamous four-lane road that McDonald crossed on 20 October 2014 before being gunned down doesn’t slow its pace to acknowledge the tragedy that happened more than 400 days ago and is now thrust into a global spotlight.

Local residents carry on with their lives on the gloomy Chicago winter day as they prepare for the holiday weekend, and shrug at what many thought would push Chicago to mimic riots seen in Baltimore or Ferguson, Missouri, over the past year………………

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Pope calls for ethnic and religious peace during Kenya visit – video

Pope Francis calls on people of different divisions to work for reconciliation and peace. Kicking off his first tour of Africa in Kenya on Wednesday, the Catholic pontiff warns against letting violence and conflict feed on fear born out of poverty. The pope says the struggle against enemies of peace must be carried on by those who believe in great spiritual and political values

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Confidential files on five priests accused of child sexual abuse have been made public as part of a settlement between St John’s Abbey and an abuse survivor

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St John’s Abbey said that the documents showed that it ‘did not try to cover up allegations and did a reasonable job of managing the monks and the problem’. Photograph: The Guardian/Alamy

Sex abuse allegations against priests at St John’s Abbey in Minnesota were revealed in stark detail on Tuesday with the release of confidential documents concerning five priests accused of child sex abuse.

Among the psychological evaluations and personal correspondence are documents showing that the Rev Finian McDonald told a therapist that he had sexual encounters with about 200 adults and minors as a priest. Another evaluation shows that the Rev Richard Eckroth admitted to bringing children to a cabin, where he would give massages to naked boys, but denied claims of sex abuse. And the Rev Tom Gillespie’s personnel file shows that he had restricted access to minors after abusing a child in 1978.

The documents were published as victims and their attorneys prepare for the expiration of a state law that temporarily eliminated the statute of limitations for child sex abuse.

“We still need to get our voices out to people who have not come forward,” said Troy Bramlage, who was abused as a teenager.

The files were released as part of a settlement between St John’s Abbey and Bramlage.

It is the first time St John’s Abbey has released confidential documents, which include personal correspondence, personnel files and psychological evaluations by the Catholic mental health center, Saint Luke Institute.

A 22 October 1993 Saint Luke review includes allegations by people who said they were abused by Eckroth. A therapist who interviewed Eckroth concluded: “We therefore believe there is a strong possibility that Father Eckroth has engaged in sexually inappropriate contact with these people.”

Eckroth was admitted to Saint Luke for inpatient treatment, but did not complete the program. Soon after, he went to the Bahamas, where he had founded a church in 1987. He died in May 2015.

The law firm representing Bramlage, Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm, decided which files to publish online. They plan to release files on 14 other priests who are accused of child sex abuse.

In a statement released before the publication of the files, St John’s Abbey said that the documents showed that it “did not try to cover up allegations and did a reasonable job of managing the monks and the problem”.

“There are documents in each file which may be quoted and framed in a lurid context,” the statement read. “But the huge majority of the documents in each of these files acknowledges the very real failures of some monks while showing each of the accused monks as a fallible, relatable person.”

Bramlage said there were “flames coming out of my ears” as he read the statement because it did not give appropriate weight to sex abuse that happened decades ago……………

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US politics

Top scientists accuse House panel of harassing climate researchers

Hillary Clinton: Pfizer is gaming the tax system – video

Ted Cruz becomes GOP frontrunner in Iowa despite never leading polls

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Opinion

The mayor said he didn’t see the Laquan McDonald shooting video before its public release, but that doesn’t absolve him from leadership on this – or anything else

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel called for calm on Tuesday night ahead of the release of video from 2014 showing a white police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times. Emanuel said he understood that some people would be upset by the footage, but he called for peaceful protests in the city: ‘Let’s build bridges of understanding’Chicago mayor: ‘I understand people will be upset by police shooting footage’

Rahm Emanuel’s disconnect from the feelings and concerns of his city’s less privileged residents was glaringly obvious during Tuesday’s press conference announcing the release of the video footage of Laquan McDonald’s murder. Despite assertions that he had not seen the video until it was released publicly, he would have certainly seen the articles, read reports and known exactly why the state’s attorney opted to charge officer Jason Van Dyke with first-degree murder.

It’s nearly impossible to believe that with his access to every office he would choose a tactic of exhorting residents that “it is fine to be passionate, but it is essential to remain peaceful” . This, without acknowledging the reality that the culture of Chicago’s police force is deeply flawed.

Perhaps the mayor’s intent was to project the same aura of calmness that he has been asking residents to display, no matter how many times an officer of the Chicago police department is caught engaging in serious misconduct. Yet his word choice makes it increasingly clear that no matter what problem is confronting the city, the most we can count on is that his choices will benefit his potential political aspirations, even at the expense of the city he leads.

Between teacher strikes, school closings, mental health clinics being closed and the ongoing saga of poor policing strategies, if Chicago residents are angry, it isn’t an overreaction to one tragedy. It is the rage of a city that is watching itself be abused by a government that keeps promising to do better.

Still, national focus the past few days has been on police misconduct, and outsiders can be forgiven for not understanding exactly why relationships between the community and the Chicago police department are so strained. But Emanuel should be well aware that with CPD’s checkered history – one that includes the Burge torture scandal and Homan Square – the problem here isn’t the residents…………………

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