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Rahm Calls For Hate Crime Investigation Into Racial Slurs Made On Police Radio

By Austin Brown in News on Apr 4, 2016 8:05PM

Some radio equipment (Photo by Paul L. McCord Jr. via the Creative Commons on Flickr)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has formally called a hate crime investigation into the racial slurs that have been broadcast over the official police radio in recent weeks by unauthorized users.

Emanuel referred to at least three instances of repeated slurs and disparaging remarks made using police radio broadcasts this year in a statement to current State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon.

"These actions merit serious investigation as a hate crime or other applicable offense under Illinois or federal law," the statement said. Emanuel is requesting an official criminal investigation to support the current investigation being conducted by the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) and the Chicago Police Department.

The first public incident took place on March 13, when a man could be heard over official police radio channels saying "typical f***ing n*****s" and "all black lives matter man, f***ing n*****s." In the month since this incident, police radio broadcasts have also been repeatedly interrupted with similar slurs and other disturbing language.

No city employees are currently suspected of making the broadcasts. The OEMC, along with the mayor's office, have stated that the transmission was from a private broadcast on the police radio frequency, not from any of the officers themselves, and the public availability of many radio technologies makes it easy for private citizens to program their radios to police frequencies.

The incidents arrive in the middle of a prolonged period of racial tensions and skepticism of the police department, following the November release of a damning video showing a police officer shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times.