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The Rush To Blame Fox Lake Cop’s Death On 'Ferguson Effect' Was Pretty Racist

By aaroncynic in News on Nov 5, 2015 8:38PM

A child sits on a man's shoulders outside Chicago Police Headquarters at the beginning of a protest of the International Association of Police Chief's conference in October. (photo by Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist)

In the aftermath of the death of the now-disgraced Fox Lake Police officer Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz Gliniewicz’s death quickly became a rallying cry for many who believed that somehow, the Black Lives Matter movement and other criticisms of police—dubbed "the Ferguson Effect"—were responsible for his shooting.

The knee-jerk reaction to blame the Sept. 1 death of the officer on Black Lives Matter and others calling for police accountability and oversight is just another sad drop in the bucket of people attempting to ignore or discredit the movement.

Police groups, politicians and pundits nationwide overwhelmingly declared their support for Gliniewicz, who it turns out, was an expert at staging crimes scenes based on his work training young people in law enforcement and was found to be stealing tens of thousands of dollars from that group. “I think it’s time we rally around our law enforcement and stop the madness,” one resident told NBC5 the day after his death as an expensive manhunt for three phantom killers was underway.

Some attempted to put the blame for Gliniewicz’s death on Obama. On Sept. 2, failed presidential candidate Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said as much in an op-ed:

“In the last six years under President Obama, we’ve seen a rise in anti-police rhetoric. Instead of hope and change, we’ve seen racial tensions worsen and a tendency to use law enforcement as a scapegoat.”

Walker’s comments came just a day after Ted Cruz put the blame of another officer’s death on Obama and criticisms of police. According to the Washington Post, when asked about the murder of Texas Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth, Cruz said that Obama and the Attorney General were “endangering the safety and security of us all” by “vilifying law enforcement. “Cops across this country are feeling the assault,” said Cruz. “They're feeling the assault from the president, from the top on down as we see.”

Well known law enforcement officials were quick to lay the blame for the death of the 30-year veteran officer on the Black Lives Matter movement along with anyone criticizing police or demanding accountability. Ron Hosko, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund and a former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division wrote in an op-ed published by USA Today that “Black Lives Matter taunts and challenges empower criminals and opportunists.” He went on to blame Goforth and Gliniewicz’s death, along with an uptick in crime, the murder of two New York City Police officers and more on the movement.

Even the conspiracy minded website Infowars joined the fray, suggesting that news coverage of police killing civilians and the protests surrounding such incidents was part of a much larger agenda to “eliminate individual liberties”:

“These provocateurs, however, will only give local police the excuse to transform into small armies, leading to even more violent confrontations between law enforcement and BLM activists which is then broadcast to the entire nation through exhaustive news coverage.”

Much like the "Ferguson effect,"—the idea that demonstrations and protests surrounding civilian deaths of police and that a demand for greater transparency within law enforcement somehow puts them in a "fetal position," as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel put it—unsubstantiated claims with no evidence turned out to be completely wrong.

Shaun King, writing for the New York Daily News, puts it bluntly:

"Even when USA Today and InfoWars published these dangerous articles, absolutely no proof (or hint of proof) existed to link the death of Gliniewicz to the Black Lives Matter movement. He had only been dead for hours and the investigation had only started, but outrageous blame was already being placed on activists."

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