|Officer Ja’Lance Hunt poses for photos with a student from Southside Occupational Academy High School, 7342 S. Hoyne, in West Englewood in 2016.|
Lots in the paper lately about race, and protests, and police.
Sometimes it seems that’s all there is. Seismic unrest rattling the country. Politicians frantically trying to respond. Corporations too, scrambling — a bus ticket jammed into poor old Aunt Jemima’s hand, booted off her pancake mix box and sent back to Chicago, whence she came.
Cases of police misconduct swirl like leaves in a storm. It can be hard to track them all. Meanwhile, a pandemic is going on somewhere, whoops, make that everywhere, and it’s a sign of just how frenetic things are that sometimes it falls from mind. “Oh yeah! I can die from going to the grocery store. I forgot!”
A jabber of voices. But anyone we don’t hear? Anyone missing?
How about police? Here they are, public howling for their blood. Yet not a peep. Shy? That can’t be it.
Being a journalist, of sorts, I thought I would fill that gap, to find their perspective. To discover what police officers think of all this. Futile, I know. But there is a ceremonial aspect to my job. So I ritualistically phoned CPD news affairs and, feeling ambitious, the Fraternal Order of Police, and explained what I want to do. Get police officers to talk about how these protests affect them, deep down in the little blue-flamed smithies of their souls.
Neither wanted any part of it. Not that they said so. They didn’t say anything — echoes of the old Code of Silence that Eddie Johnson never noticed. Because the police aren’t part of Chicago. Oh, they live here, wink wink. And they work here. But really, police live in a separate Land of Blue, a dreamscape where everybody is a cop, and only cops understand other cops, and they’re all brother cops gazing in cop solidarity over the sharpened pine stockade of their Cop Alamo, blinking their cop eyes at the noisy mob of non-cops they’re supposed to keep safe — ”animals,” in police lingo — and the various idiot politicians like the mayor — ”Groot,” in racist police lingo (they sell derogatory t-shirts with Lightfoot as the Marvel Comics character, a talking tree) — issuing nonsensical directions based on naiveté, ignorance and malice.
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