Editorial: The uncomfortable reality of Laquan McDonald's shooting by police

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Updated 11/26/2015 8:06 PM
hello
  • This frame from dash-cam video released Tuesday by the Chicago Police Department shows Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke about to shoot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

    This frame from dash-cam video released Tuesday by the Chicago Police Department shows Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke about to shoot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

For most of us living in the suburbs, our perspective of the police is respectful if not admiring.

A few of us may have felt wronged once by a cop during a traffic stop, but even in those cases, it's not a feeling we hold onto or generalize.

To most of us, a "bad cop" is an exception, not the rule. To most of us, cops are good people doing hard and often thankless jobs.

In the suburbs, few us see police as threatening.

Most of us see police as heroes, men and woman who serve and protect.

This is natural. This is how the vast majority of the police we encounter are. And this is our life's experience with them.

The grisly video of last year's shooting of Laquan McDonald in Chicago is hard to watch.

If you watch it, you see the slaying of a young man. That's a horrific thing to view.

But if you haven't seen it, make a point of doing so.

It is perspective altering. It is a hard but powerful experience that forces you to ask uncomfortable but courageous questions about assumptions you've long held.

For most of us in the suburbs, Ferguson, Missouri, is foreign soil.

Most of us have to admit: Our initial reactions to Ferguson were influenced by the lives we know.

There's a piece of this missing, we thought then. A police officer, we believed, wouldn't shoot an unarmed man for no justifiable reason. There had to be, we thought, unseen pressures and risks you couldn't appreciate unless you were on those dangerous streets along with the police who were there risking their lives.

Most of us, here in the suburbs, gave the police in Ferguson -- and in all the other cases that have called attention to themselves since -- the benefit of the doubt because most of the police we know deserve one.

But watch the Laquan McDonald video.

Watch the bullets still kick up dust even long after he has spun and fallen.

Watch the inexplicable shooting and let it boggle your preconceived notions.

There is a serious problem in the police culture in the black community. It's not just a communications problem. It's a how-the-police-interact-with-minorities problem.

That conclusion may be hard for most of us in the suburbs to reach or accept. But it is inescapable.

We all have an obligation to address it.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.