Every Fourth of July, Chicago’s Navy Pier is alight with a fantastical fireworks display. It is a place of camaraderie, a shared honoring of the founding of this country, and a celebration of all the things that make it great to be an American. This year, however, after the fireworks had dimmed and the crowds thinned, it was the sight of a different kind of explosive, gun fire. Two groups squared off against each other in a deadly exchange–an exchange that was mirrored across the city. Over the holiday weekend, 7 people were killed and 55 wounded from gun violence. Among those shot dead was 7-year-old Amari Brown who was killed while watching fireworks outside his home in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.
In a news conference about the weekend’s violence, Chicago’s top cop Gary McCarthy blamed the criminal justice system for Amari’s death since it is believed the bullet was meant for his father, an alleged top-ranking gang member. Sorry Mr. McCarthy, while the system isn’t perfect, you certainly aren’t helping stem gun violence.
During his four years on the job, violent shootings in Chicago continue to rise. Meanwhile, gun violence incidents in other major cities like New York and Los Angeles are falling. Additionally, McCarthy continues to erode citizens’ civil liberties. In March, the ACLU released a report that showed Chicagoans are stopped by police at a rate that is four times greater than that of New York at the height of its stop-and-frisk practice. A vast majority of stop-and-frisks in Chicago are in direct violation of citizens’ fourth amendment rights. During a four-month period of May through August 2014, African-American Chicagoans were subjected to 72 percent of all stops (though this demographic constitutes just 32 percent of the city’s population). Clearly there is something wrong here.
And if the heightened violence and continual violations of constitutional rights weren’t embarrassment enough, Glenn Evans—one the city’s highest ranking police officers and a favorite of McCarthy—faces criminal charges and is being sued in civil court for excessive use of force.
At Romanucci & Blandin, we are staunch defenders of constitutional rights and have a demonstrated track record of fighting to curb police’s use of force. As for McCarthy and his tenure as this city’s man-in-charge, we have to agree with this op-ed from Crain’s “McCarthy has had four years. It’s time to turn to someone else.”