Mayor Is Upset That Citizens Have Been Informed of Possible Police Abuse

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

A dash cam video shows a Champaign, Illinois cop pepper spraying and possibly choking a man he had confronted for jaywalking.

Champaign Mayor Don Gerard is “gravely disappointed,” but not by anything depicted in the video. His consternation is over the fact that it was released to the public.

Champaign Mayor Don Gerard said he is ‘gravely disappointed’ the police video was posted online, saying it is counteractive to anything the city is trying to achieve in terms of police-community relations. The mayor added that he is ‘very confident’ that state police will investigate the June 5 arrest.

“I hoping that despite (the video being released) that whatever actions the city and the state’s attorney take aren’t compromised,” Gerard said.

Because the best way to preserve police-community relations apparently isn’t to, you know, actually prevent police abuse . . . but to prevent the community from knowing about it when it happens.

And it isn’t the first time Champaign authorities have tried to squelch video of possible police misconduct. From my Reason feature on the war on cameras:

In one high-profile 2004 case, police arrested documentary filmmaker Patrick Thompson for recording their interactions with bar and restaurant patrons in Champaign and Urbana. (Thompson was making a movie about tensions between police and African Americans in the town.) The ACLU of Illinois submitted an amicus brief on Thompson’s behalf, asking the judge overseeing his case to overturn the law on First Amendment grounds . . . A new district attorney was elected while Thompson’s charges were still pending, who then dropped all of the charges against Thompson after taking office.

Thompson’s arrest was of course done under the auspices of that odious Illinois wiretapping law.

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24 Responses to “Mayor Is Upset That Citizens Have Been Informed of Possible Police Abuse”

  1. #1 |  Irving Washington | 

    My local PD (Dallas) posts dash cam video to its Facebook page.

  2. #2 |  Marty | 

    it’s all about protecting the institutions, while the individuals get ground up.

  3. #3 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    “I hoping that despite (the video being released) that whatever actions the city and the state’s attorney take aren’t compromised,” Gerard said.

    “…whatever actions (wink wink)…”

    Pretty sure we know what actions police (thugs), city (PR), and DA (money man) will take.

    Also, what Marty said.

  4. #4 |  JimBob | 

    “Transparency for thee; not for me.”

    Remember: your internet records, phone call history, locations, driving habits, prescription history, utility usage, hard drive backups (if you’re using a service like carbonite, etc) are all “tangible things” which can be obtained without warrant (thanks to the PATRIOT Act), because, hey, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO HIDE, CITIZEN?

    But dashboard camera footage of police officers assaulting a man– on the job, in public spaces, using taxpayer-purchased equipment, and being paid out of taxpayer money? Why, that’s subject to STRICT privacy restrictions! We can’t publish that sort of stuff! Protecting the privacy of our officers is critical– we can’t have these guys living in a surveillance state. Besides, we have a reputation to manage! Goddamn these people, trying to expose corruption, abuse, and violence– don’t they know how it hurts our PR?

  5. #5 |  SSM | 

    god, I love the word “odious”…it’s so appropriate for those we chose to “govern” (read: play kindergarten partisan politics) in my home state o’ Illinois

  6. #6 |  Pam | 

    My daughter graduated from there last Spring. I would get the crime alert e-mails every Monday morning after a weekend of crime sprees in and around campus. Very disconcerting for a Mom. Lots of robberies, thefts, assaults, wallet-snatchings, purse-snatchings and muggings. It’s a white and Asian campus, privileged kids with money. Lots of poor underprivileged living in Champaign. Anyway, I’m wondering, why is this cop so attentive on nailing a jay-walker? Doesn’t he get the e-mails?

  7. #7 |  k | 

    “Jaywalking”?!? Those assholes pepper-sprayed & choked a guy for “JAYWALKING”????

    Puppycide was a real bad sign; not bothering to check the house address on no-knock ‘stone-cold ninja military’ SWAT raids was worse; completely nonexistent fire discipline on those raids – firing blindly through interior walls, hitting the mother and infant on the other side was even WORSE; (they never DID find the front door to the Mt. Carmel complex in Waco, or the front door to the Weaver cabin in Ruby Ridge, did they. Odd that an organization as anal & ass-covering as the FBI would lose such things, doncha think?), the ever-expanding use of Tazers and pepper-spray as an LEO entertainment venue (“DANCE, grandmaw, DANCE!!”) even worse than THAT….and the list goes on & on, & gets longer every single damn month.

    But going all Stasi/FSB on frickin’ *jaywalkers* might be the last sign: the seventh seal. The cops have made their intentions crystal clear, as have the D.A.’s who steadfastly defend them and refuse to prosecute them. And this trend is accelerating. They have (unofficially)(only in the sense that they don’t have the balls to come right out and say it) they have declared war on US citizens, confident that we won’t retaliate. Oh, not the *bad* guys – the crips/bloods/disciples/vice lords/zetas, et al. Not THEM. THOSE guys are scary, and might shoot back! (With weapons given them by the Obama administration, BTW.) NO, this war is on Joe & Jane Sixpack:average proles. Gotta keep ’em in line, or who knows what might happen.

    Perhaps its finally time to disabuse them of that notion. Here are the 2 words they fear most of all: “asymmetrical warfare”. Just a thought. Or we could just keep hoping that maybe the cops will wake up one day and realize that what they’ve been doing is (grossly) abusing the powers of their badges, and the deep shame they feel will impel them to all resign en masse. Or maybe commit seppuku to cleanse themselves of their shame. Even though that’s never ever happened before – except in hugely isolated instances – maybe we sheep should trust that our shepherds have our best interests at heart. It’s been 100+ years now – SURELY they’ll come around soon! Right??

    So maybe we should wait another generation or 2 and hope that happens. Any other course of action would be self-defense, and -as we all know – that’s a felony. Best not to risk it.

  8. #8 |  derfel cadarn | 

    Probably not quite as counter productive as pepper spraying and choking citizens for jaywalking. thankfully the citizen was not crossing the green as the neighborhood would had to have been scoured for dogs to shoot and small children to be taken away by child protective services. Mayor Gerard please get your head out of your ass and realize that both you and the officer(thug) are public servants. Be very careful Mayor as your time is coming and it looks like it is going to be 7-12 without reduction for good behavior.

  9. #9 |  lumpy | 

    My town pulled its dash cameras out of the squads several years ago fearing potential litigation. (a southern suburb of Chicago)

  10. #10 |  MyNameHere | 

    I bet Gerard is “disappointed”. This comes as the community is divided by the October arrest of Calvin Miller in which he didn’t pull over for the cops and then he says he was beaten when they finally stopped him.

    Given that a Champaign cop shot and killed a 15-year-old a couple of years ago, you can understand why Miller might have been a little nervous about stopping for the police in this town.

  11. #11 |  horseydeucey | 

    So let me get this straight; the video’s release is, “counteractive to anything the city is trying to achieve in terms of police-community relations.” But the incident (or allegation) isn’t?

    This sounds like the logic of someone who is begging to be ousted from office… immediately. No questions asked.

  12. #12 |  Aresen | 

    It’s hard to hide behind the “Officer Friendly” mask when people know what the face behind it looks like.

  13. #13 |  freedomfan | 

    Police department personnel investigated the case, and Chief R.T. Finney issued a finding that the officer’s actions regarding ‘use of force’ were within police and training standards.

    To regular Agitator readers, this sort of statement is quite familiar. We know that a police investigation reviewing the actions of police officers is a joke, and we are ready for the standard line that “the officer’s actions were consistent with policy / were not inappropriate and that more training may be needed.”

    But the pattern will one day become clear to people outside this unfortunately small slice of the population who doesn’t assume by default that the government always does the right thing. It would be great to see a video clip of some police media relations person making the standard statement juxtaposed next to a clip of Tony Soprano assuring someone that, sure, his crew may have beaten the crap out of someone, but that he is looking into it and appropriate actions will be taken. (Of course, if one of his crew caused Tony public embarrassment, that crew member might actually face some repercussions. Compare that to the police…)

  14. #14 |  croaker | 

    @9 Let me guess: Hoffman Estates. (The real-life model for the comic book character Buck Godot was a HE cop.)

  15. #15 |  John Regan | 

    The mayor should obviously be a judge. I think he could get the police union endorsement.

  16. #16 |  OBTC | 

    Look who is on facebook:

    None other then the badgelicking and batonswallowing extraordinare, please welcome Champaign Mayor Don Gerard:

  17. #17 |  CSD | 

    From the beginning of the video it looked like the police were looking for someone to arrest. Much of the beginning of the video appears to me to be police harassing black youths while white youths stand around and watch. The arrested was charged for apparently crossing in a cross walk with what appeared like no cars coming because the light was not red. The policeman comes charging at him and never tells him why he is coming after him and why he is being arrested. The only car that appears at risk of hitting them is the police car that makes a right into incoming traffic. I know it must be exciting to get a perp on a jaywalking charge but settle down there officer excitable.

  18. #18 |  CSD | 

    Apparently the state investigation findings weren’t to the mayors liking.

  19. #19 |  Greg | 

    Referring to post #18, it seems like we owe the Mayor, if not an apology, a commendation for seeking further review.

  20. #20 |  Cynic in New York | 

    Granted most of us know that Conservatism or what I like to call Thugservatism loves to talk liberty but is full of more lies than an Obama speech. I figure some of you would enjoy this piece

  21. #21 |  GÄC | 

    It is sad – the German version of “Cops” (titled “Achtung! Kontrolle”) regularly has jaywalking as one of their televised stings (yeah, the show isn’t nearly as crazy as Cops). The polizei wait in a store doorway until some unsuspecting pedestrian dares to cross against the light. They spring out, politely telling said pedestrian they are breaking a law. The pedestrian politely appologizes. The polizei politely write them a ticket. Everyone walks away un-maced and un-tazed.

    Yeah, the Germans are pretty strict when it comes to compliance with the law. But I don’t have the same level of concern in dealing with them as I do with the police back in the US…

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