Late Wednesday, a video about four African-Americans tying up and torturing a mentally disabled white man in an apartment on Chicago’s West Side, spread like wildfire via social media. In the first instance, placed on one of the alleged perpetrators’ Facebook page is quickly made national and international headlines.
“I’ve been a cop for 28 years and I have seen that you should not see in a lifetime, but it still amazes me how you still see things that you just should not,” the Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson told reporters during a press conference Wednesday.
“I’m not going to say it shocked me,” Johnson said of the video. “But it was sickening.”
The video was another blow for the reputation of one of America ‘ s great cities, just a few days after new data showed that in 2016, was one of the bloodiest years, and President-elect, Donald Trump said Mayor Rahm Emanuel must ask for the federal and the local police couldn’t get a grip on the violence.
According to data released on new year’s day by the Chicago Police department, the city suffered 762 murders last year. That is the most in two decades and more than New York City and Los Angeles combined.
Chicago also saw 1,100 more shooting incidents in 2016 than in 2015, and the police recovered 8,300 illegal weapons, an increase of 20 percent from the previous year.
If the number of murders went up, the number of arrests dropped, as critics said the officers are more reluctant to do their work because the city was forced in November 2015 to release video of the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old boy who was shot 16 times by a white police officer.
The video cost former Superintendent of the Chicago Police Garry McCarthy, his work led to large protests around the city, and led to the federal and state investigation of the police.
“It’s almost like a pull back, so they (gangs) could be the death of every other kind of thing,” the Rev. Marshall Hatch, a prominent minister in one of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods on the west side, told the Associated Press this week.
The police said repeatedly that most of the city’s murders involve gang connections, perhaps 80 percent. Most of the deaths and shooting incidents in 2016 has occurred in only five of the city’s 22 police districts on the city from the South and west sides, all the poor and predominantly black areas where gangs are most active.
Johnson acknowledged in a recent interview with The Associated Press that the officers are more cautious, partly out of fear of being the next “viral video.” He also said a state law that took effect in January jl. own officers to fill long-term contact of the cards when they stop someone, which has resulted in fewer stops, because the cards require more paperwork for the officers and the cards are “investigated” by federal judges.
He said that that concern is not lost on criminals.
“Criminals, watch TV, pay attention to the media,” he said. “They see the opportunity to commit criminal activities.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.