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Subtle Propaganda: 60 Minutes Covers Chicago Violence and Policing

Media has the power to influence the way an issue is contextualized, and as a result how solutions are implemented.  “Crisis in Chicago”, the 6o Minutes segment on the violence in the city of Chicago, its cause and potential solutions is an example worthy of analysis.

Even though Black children are dying in Chicago, Bill Whitaker, an African-American reporter tells his story from the perspective of Chicago’s Police Department.  In fact, the “Crisis” referenced in the segments title is not the crisis of Black people dying in the streets of Chicago, but of the “crisis” in the morale of Chicago P.D.

This “crisis” in morale begins in the aftermath of the 2014 Laquan McDonald shooting.  Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by a white officer who claimed the 16-year-old lunged at him.  When the police video of the shooting was released a full year later, the officers version of the shooting was proven to be false.  In fact, Laquan McDonald posed no threat, and appeared to be moving away from the officer at the time of the shooting.

After the videos release, Chicago’s Police Department came under increased scrutiny.  Because of potential  ACLU action against the department, new policies were implemented to hold officers accountable for their interactions with citizens.  Newly implemented policies required officers be more “selective” in their encounters with citizens.  And when these encounters occurred, officer’s were required to complete a two-page incident report … herein lies the crisis.  Within six weeks of the new obligation to be accountable for their actions, investigative stops dropped by 35,000!

Former Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy interviewed in the segment states officers “feel under attack”.   Mind you, Black folk are dying because of this slowdown in police activity, but cops feel they are under attack … irony.  McCarthy holds that the added paperwork would require 45 minutes of an officers time, time he believes officers should be out on Chicago’s streets.  The story speaks of a plan in place to put an added 1,000 officers on the streets of Chicago.  Told from this perspective the solutions to Chicago’s real crisis would appear to be more cops, and more “investigative stops” (stop and frisk).

The ‘more cops and more stops’ line plays into the policies being touted by the individual coming to the White House.  In his so-called “outreach” to Afrikans in America Trump called for exactly that, more repressive policing of Black communities.  The propaganda value of the 60 Minutes segment can not be dismissed.

The average white American, knows nothing of the racist social forces that impact the Black community.  White Americans have nothing in their experience equivalent to the realities Black Americans face dealing with “police as occupying armies”.  To the average white American “more cops and more stops” may well seem a logical path. For an administration bent on repressing the Black community, this 60 Minutes segment is an ideal propaganda piece.  Intentional?

No one in the Black community need be told of the devastation of crime and gang violence.  We live with it every day. But Black communities also live with Police officers who kill Black men and women with impunity.  Case after case tells the same story; cops kill Black folk and are rarely held accountable for their actions. The last thing these communities need are more cops with less accountability! More, unaccountable police, and racially biased policing pours salt into the wound and fails to address the real, underlying disease of systemic and structural racism.

Inadequate education leaves one in four of Chicago’s south and west side residents without a high school degree. Yet, Chicago’s mayor Rahm Emanuel presided over the largest mass school closures in U.S. history. Among 20- to 24-year-olds, the Chicago area’s employment rate is 47 percent for blacks, the lowest among the big cities. Chicago’s black young adults are seven times more likely than white young adults to be not working or going to school.

More repressive policing is not what Chicago needs. What’s needed in Chicago is better education, more economic opportunity, and the social stability these would provide. Why can’t mass media do a story about the real problems so that real solutions can be sought? Not sexy? Not politically convenient? Not what the powerful interests want exposed?

Propaganda is everywhere, and always there. Even this piece has a specific “slant”. Be critical of what you see, hear and read. Do your research and make your own informed decisions.

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