Chicago Police Offer 'Advice' On How Not To Get Shot By Them
By aaroncynic in News on Aug 10, 2015 8:20PM
The Chicago Police Department wants everyone to know how to keep safe, in a list of rules that sound suspiciously like a how-to guide to avoid being shot by police.
In a series of tweets sent out over the weekend, coincidentally (we're sure) the same weekend as the shooting death of Michael Brown, which sparked nationwide protests and several movements aimed at taking on institutional racism in policing, CPD released “tips to stay safe in any neighborhood.”
The tips include being “smart about whom, when and where you hang out,” keeping your hands visible at all times, not cursing or raising your voice, and not playing music loudly. The number one piece of advice:
“Remember your actions and attitude can impact the situation positively or negatively.”
The tips, some critics have said, wrongly allude that being shot by police is an individual's own responsibility, and completely avoidable (and thereby police shootings are never racially motivated), as long as one follows a specific set of guidelines.
The tweets have so far received some predictable responses from people concerned about the targeting of people of color by police and the fact that CPD has killed more civilians than police in any other major city.
@johnvmoore The @Chicago_Police might be interested to know that it’s a crime under federal law to knowingly deprive someone of his rights.— Dave (@D_v_E) August 10, 2015
hey @Chicago_Police, how about we’ll play music as loud as we want in our private vehicles, and you focus on keeping your guns holstered— sam leo stecklow (@samstecky) August 10, 2015
Aislinn Sol, lead coordinator with BLM Chicago and an organizer with the group We Charge Genocide, said the tweets devalue human life. In an email to Chicagoist, Sol said they were “reflective of CPD’s belief that the onus of life saving is on the citizen, not the person with the gun and badge, and that if a person is mistreated, or killed by police, then the responsibility lies with the actions of the citizen
"Instead of implementing a system of accountability, a system of valuing life, a system which rejects death as acceptable at any time, they “advise” the public on how to best avoid being killed or beaten by them.” she added.
In response, one activist wrote up their own advice for Chicago police:
. @Chicago_Police This could use some edits. I was kind enough to provide them. #CPD #PoliceBrutality #policereform pic.twitter.com/mmC9UblDQu— E.J. Nova (@NovaTess) August 9, 2015
Given that some of the “advice” listed in the tweets suggests that doing perfectly legal things could end up getting someone stopped or even shot by police, Jerry Boyle, a lawyer and member of the Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers guild, said he was surprised CPD tweeted this out in the first place.
“You get too loud with the music you could violate the noise ordinance the loud music you run across in most cars is perfectly legal,” said Boyle. “When they say be careful who you associate with, it means you don’t have a right to freedom of association—‘if you hang out with someone we don’t’ like, you’ll run into trouble.”
The advice for reporting police misconduct is suspect as well, according to Boyle. The Department suggests that one should report misconduct to the Independent Police Review Authority, an entity mostly made up of law enforcement-related individuals, and recently allegedly fired a supervisor who refused to reverse his findings that several police shootings weren’t justified. “It creates an illusion of a worthwhile procedure,” said Boyle.
In fact, simply asserting your rights can have severe consequences, even if you’ve done nothing wrong, Boyle added:
“Sandra Bland is a perfect example of this. If an officer feels that you’re the kind of person too assertive about her rights and sees a complaint coming, a lot of people will say that the best defense is a good offense. The officer brutalizes you and you go in with the deck stacked against you. It’s a galling thing to be a victim of police violence accused of committing violence against police.”
Sol said that the fifth piece of advice is victim blaming, and that the list itself suggests police ignore their own responsibilities when engaging with citizens.
“Through this list, CPD is shirking responsibility by saying to the citizen that it is up to them to not curse, have their hands visible, not listen to loud music in order to avoid being killed,” said Sol. “Rather than what is the most logical, this is to tell CPD to not kill, to not batter, to not abuse, to not brutalize.”