When Chicago criminal-defense lawyer Marcus Schantz got a not guilty from a jury last week for a guy accused of assaulting a couple of cops, I was pleased for him. It looked like a bad case; and any time we put the government to its proof and the jury agrees with us, it’s worth an attaboy or two.
Not everybody agrees.
Schantz, via Twitter, pointed out this post and its comments, on the Detective Shaved Longcock (yeah, really) cop blog.
Sample anonymous comments:
Dude is beyond redemption. I summon by the blood of Jesus the spirit of George Lincoln Rockwell. We got business to attend to. Time to clean out the roaches.
(George Lincoln Rockwell was the founder of the American Nazi Party.)
It would be terrible if this nigger were to be found in an alley with his throat cut.
Whats this niggers address?
I suddenly have the urge to burn a cross…
Then another post, same blog. More overtly racist comments from anonymous commenters. For example:
you wanna see my membership card in the Indiana Klan motherfucker?
I was a legacy accept from the Greenwood Mississippi chapter.
Fuck you nigger.
(He may be white, racist, and Klan, but he couldn’t be very proud, since he’s commenting anonymously. Internet anonymity is the equivalent of the Klansman’s hood: it gives racists a chance to express themselves without their neighbors finding out.)
Cops. Maybe some pretenders and wannabes too, but it’s a cop blog, with cop readers and cop commenters.
That many cops are overt racists is no surprise; the phenomenon isn’t limited to Chicago. Many people are racists; pinning on a badge and strapping on a gun does nothing to reduce racism; to the contrary, when your chief contact with people of another race is having to arrest them for breaking the law, your racism might well be aggravated.
The cops involved got on the witness stand and testified; Marcus’s client got on the witness stand and testified. It didn’t take the jury long to find him not guilty. Why did the jury not believe the cops beyond a reasonable doubt? Who can say? But…
Imagine that jurors follow cop blogs and their comments. They have reasonably concluded that there is a strong undercurrent of racism among white cops in the Chicago Police Department, with some white cops willing to publicly advocate crossburning and murder of blacks. What would stop such cops from perjuring themselves to put in prison a black man who shot at them? How can the jurors tell the difference between the police officer who is willing to lie to them, and the police officer who isn’t? In a police department infected with Nazis and Klansmen, any cop might be a Nazi or a Klansman, intent on doing whatever can be done to put blacks in their place. Isn’t it a real possibility that in this case the cops are lying to put the defendant where they think he belongs?
If it’s a real possibility that the cops are lying about a material fact, isn’t that a reasonable doubt? If cops who may be lying say that they clearly announced their presence before the defendant started shooting at them and the defendant who may be lying says that isn’t true, has anything been proven beyond a reasonable doubt? If the state hasn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the cops were cops, doesn’t the defendant walk?
Cops want everyone else to think as highly of them as they think of themselves; when people fail to show proper adulation for them, the cops take it personally (I got pulled over once for going 63 in a 60 zone on a road built for 150 because I dared creep past a cop who was impeding traffic at 60). Getting less respect from a jury than they deserve can be upsetting to police officers.
Do Chicago’s finest think that by lashing out against blacks they make it more likely that the next jury will show them more love?