Publication Date



We write from Chicago, a city in upheaval following revelations
about the police shooting of seventeen-year-old Laquan McDonald.
In a matter of days, public debate about patterns of police abuse
and impunity, a discourse extending back to the 1960s and beyond,
has undergone a Copernican revolution. A set of propositions about
the nature of the problem, fiercely resisted for decades by public
and private interests, has been embraced by officials and the
media as axiomatic.
Perhaps the most striking expression of this sea change was the
speech Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave to the Chicago City Council on
December 9, 2015. Breaking with the past and his own prior

stances,' the mayor asserted that this is "a defining moment on
the issues of crime and policing-and the even larger issues of
truth, justice and race." He stated that we must confront
longstanding institutional conditions that enable and shield police
abuse. He acknowledged that there is "a code of silence" within
the Chicago Police Department that must be addressed. He
further acknowledged the inadequacy of the city's investigative
and disciplinary systems. And, he emphasized that police
accountability is essential to effective law enforcement. Most
importantly, he spoke of this constellation of issues as
fundamentally a matter of race-of other people's children being
treated differently than his children because they are Black.