On the night of July 2, 2009, a Chicago Police Department “Mobile Strike Force” cornered 16-year-old Rakeem Nance in a dark alley on the West Side. Chicago’s Mobile Strike Force is a paramilitary unit lead by a Marine Lieutenant who commanded “counterinsurgency” operations in Fallujah, Iraq and is part of a militarized “surge” of police repression and intimidation in Chicago’s oppressed communities. Bringing home the bitter taste of what U.S. imperialism shoves down the throats of people from Iraq and Afghanistan to the streets of Chicago, Rakeem was shot in the back and executed in that West Side alley on that summer night.
Police allege that Rakeem was involved in breaking into a home, and that he supposedly aimed a gun at a police officer. Chicago PD Superintendent Jody Weiss claimed, “If you point a weapon at someone, they’re probably going to try to take his life,” and that Rakeem’s murder was justified. Following that logic, the people of Chicago being targeted by this paramilitary police urban warfare campaign would be fully justified in defending themselves with deadly force whenever the police come into their neighborhoods with weapons drawn; somehow I doubt that Mr. Weiss and the State’s Attorney would allow his justification to stand in such circumstances.
Rakeem’s funeral was held just down the street from where Chicago police murdered 18-year-old Aaron Harrison two summers ago. Just last summer the Chicago police shot 12, and killed 6, people in a four week period. Along a boarded-up wall next to the funeral home, we placed posters of Rakeem and numerous other victims of the Chicago police from the last couple years.
After the funeral, standing before the faces of far-too-many youth gunned down by the Chicago police, I spoke to several of Rakeem’s high school teachers. They adamantly wanted me and the world to know that Rakeem was nothing like he has been viciously portrayed by the police (and the media that think “journalism” involves unquestioningly parroting police propaganda). Rakeem always asked the most challenging questions, he enjoyed writing music and wanted to be a rapper, five of his friends had been killed and he was compelled to try to look out for his friends…
Rakeem was another promising young life brutally snuffed out by the enforcers of this capitalist system. Even if he was involved in some kind of break in (and claims of him pointing a gun at police while carrying armloads of items supposedly taken from a house they broke into is even more dubious), none of that justifies his execution by the police. What kind of system do we live in that upholds the value of private property over the lives of human beings? The same system that ordered police in New Orleans to “shoot to kill” anyone who attempted to take food and supplies to survive during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The same system that sends armed “surges” into the communities and homes of people from Fallujah to Chicago, to drop bombs on people’s homes from Kabul to Philadelphia, to execute the youth from Oakland to Baghdad, to snatch people off the streets in handcuffs and torture them from Abu Ghraib to John Burge’s precinct.
This whole damn system is guilty as hell.Posted in Thoughts
Tags: Aaron Harrison, Abu Ghraib, Chicago, Chicago police, Fallujah, gun, Iraq, Jody Weiss, John Burge, justice, Kabul, Mobile Strike Force, Oakland, paramilitary police, Philadelphia, police murder, Rakeem Nance, surge, torture bombing, urban warfare, West Side