A Chicago police officer has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was wielding a knife and who had PCP in his system. Chicago authorities apparently went to some trouble to sweep the case under the rug: A $5 million settlement to his family already had been approved; the officer wasn’t charged until nearly a year after the fact; a police-camera video of the shooting was suppressed for more than a year, until an FOIA lawsuit forced its release.
Chicago is a city under impeccably progressive governance. Its mayor is Rahm Emanuel, former right hand to President Barack Obama. So in response to the shooting of a young black hooligan by a police officer in one of the nation’s most corrupt cities and the dodgy handling of that by the city’s Democratic mayor, we have a thousand protesters harassing shoppers and blocking retailers’ entrances down on the Magnificent Mile, wherein is found Neiman Marcus and Cartier.
RELATED: The Left’s Burning Cities
Protesters are chanting “16 shots,” in reference to the number of police bullets that struck McDonald. But the criminal question as regards Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who is charged in the shooting, isn’t whether he was justified in shooting the young man 16 times, but whether he was justified in shooting him once. Lethal force is lethal force, and the standard practice in most police departments is to aim for the target’s center mass and keep firing. Chicago police commonly carry the Glock 17 pistol, which has a magazine capacity of 19 rounds. If the first shot was justified, then 16 shots were justified.
This is where progressive urban governance leads: The combination of over-promising and under-delivering, corruption, institutional ineffectiveness, and clientelist politics ruptures the relationship between so-called public servants and the public they purport to serve. Chicago isn’t Detroit or Cleveland: It isn’t some lost city that has in effect been left to weed over. But employing the same kinds of institutional approaches with the same values and the same assumptions will produce — surprise — the same results. The Jesse Jacksons of the world instinctively respond by threatening to immiserate the functional parts of Chicago. But Jackson et al. shouldn’t be leading a march on the high-end retail district — they should be leading a march on the Democratic-party headquarters, which is the actual locus of malice in this sorry affair.
RELATED: Take the Cities Back from Democrats
Non-whites, lower-income workers, and those whose economic condition has necessitated welfare dependency at some time do not much trust Republicans, because they believe that Republicans do not have their interests are heart. Republicans have over the years given them some reason to believe that, too. But it shouldn’t be too hard to look at a place such as Chicago and ask: “Does Rahm Emanuel really act in your interest?” The answer is obviously not. Crime, corruption, dysfunctional schools, unsatisfactory public services from transit to sanitation: There’s a great deal of fertile ground for Republicans and conservatives there. Rudy Giuliani won in New York on a single issue — crime — and delivered on it. On a smaller scale, Rick Baker had a very good run as mayor of St. Petersburg, and won 90 percent of the vote in the city’s low-income black precincts on his second go-round.
In the long run, conservatives need the cities. And the cities need conservatives right now.
— Kevin D. Williamson is roving correspondent at National Review.