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American Spring in Chicago?

By       Message William Boardman     Permalink
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Rahm Emanuel, the Face of Democratic Fascism, Deserves to Lose

By William Boardman -- Reader Supported News (3.5.15)

Police-state challenge could nurture democracy and an American Spring

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Chicago's mayoral election may look like a local event, and the media mostly cover it as a local event, but the presence of a large, diverse, and energized opposition demanding change on basic issues of fairness and justice gives the city's local result a potentially important, totemic meaning for the country. The winner of the April 7 runoff election may signify whether peaceful change is possible, or whether the suffocating status quo will grow more stifling.

There is another way of gauging the April vote: is Chicago yet ready to reject the police state practices of its local government? Is Chicago ready to reject a mayor who seems content to allow police state behavior to go unexamined and unpunished? Will Chicago be where a majority of Americans finally confront the nationwide plague of police hate and violence that makes the term "American justice" an oxymoron?

The current mayor since 2011, the arrogant and ineffective Rahm Emanuel, has catered to his rich folks base (with "the actions of a mad king"). And he has treated the majority of Chicagoans with destructive disdain, whether he's closing their schools, attacking teachers and other public employees, or ignoring police brutality and killing. (As a Congressman in 2002, Emanuel supported the Iraq War right out of the box.) He is endorsed by major Chicago media that laud his "significant accomplishments," but they can't seem to name any. His record is mixed.

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Given the preening self-satisfaction of the incumbent pugnacious bully, given the elitist priorities and anti-populist destructiveness of this Clinton-Obama Democrat, the best result for the national Democratic Party -- and for the country -- would be the clear rejection of regressive, rightwing Democrat Rahm Emanuel for a second term as mayor. Emanuel's defeat could mean the end of almost 30 years of corporate Democrats (including Richard M. Daley, 1989-2011) running Chicago for the 1% and driving the city into heavy debt that the 99% will be expected to pay.

Chicagestapo story breaks, police lie, everyone else starts stonewalling

Chicago is already paying tens of millions of dollars in restitution to victims of the Chicago Police Department over the past four decades (over $50 million paid in 2014 alone). On election day, February 24, Chicago police state tactics became a clear and present issue in the current election, when the Guardian newspaper published a report about one of the city's darker open secrets, the Homan Square holding facility that has functioned as a municipal black site for torture and interrogation for years.

In its essence, the story is simple and predictable: the Chicago police have a secure facility where they can take prisoners and hold them more or less indefinitely, keeping no official record of their whereabouts, while treating them with torture techniques made familiar by their application to prisoners at Guantanamo. The Guardian story by Spencer Ackerman, a reliable reporter who used to work for Wired, is based on public records and the personal accounts of both victims and attorneys, none of whom hide behind anonymity. The report provides ample detail that can be independently verified by any responsible public official or investigator or other news organization.

Despite the long Chicago police history of chronic brutality, the department promptly went into denial mode, issuing an unsigned, so-called "fact sheet" that is free of much relevant fact. Beyond that dishonest document, police officials refused to comment. Much of the police "defense" turns on the characterization by witnesses (not by Guardian reporters) of "what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site," which it clearly is, based on current evidence.

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Homan Square is a large, well-guarded warehouse secure from scrutiny

Homan Square used to be a Sears, Roebuck warehouse complex built in 1904, on a 40-plus acre site, providing 3.3 million square feet of floor space. In 1978, after Sears moved out, 16 acres of the site became a National Historic Landmark and the rest was re-developed in a variety of ways. In 1999, the police took over part of the Sears complex, one four-story warehouse covering most of a city block. In other words, even this smaller piece of the Sears complex is a big building, as the police acknowledge, without saying just how big the Homan Square Facility is:

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)

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