Friday, February 18, 2011

Chicago Code and personal experience with Chicago corruption

Chicago CodeThere's a new show on TV called The Chicago Code. It's a Cop drama about fighting the corruption ingrained in the city government that Chicago is so famous for. When I heard a couple of ads for it on the radio and on TV during the Super Bowl I decided to give it a shot and I've been impressed so far.

It's really interesting watching a drama set in a place you know. Makes it feel very real, actually. Particularly so in this case because after living there for six years I really did see the corruption in the city. It's sort of crazy sometimes. Once when I was in college I woke up in the morning to headlines that Mayor Daley had thrown his weight around and ordered that a local airport, Meigs Field, be razed at midnight so that it would be over before anyone could stop him.

When Isaac and I were newlyweds living in the Ukrainian Village I saw headlines saying that one of the old school mobsters (think Al Capone) died in his home .... and it turned out it was three doors down from us. Gang violence is of course all over the city and I remember one of Isaac's high school students coming to school and saying someone had been shot right outside their house and they'd had to try to get through the investigation to get to school.

The irony of watching Chicago Code is that these cops are portrayed as the good guys. Now, I'm sure there are good cops in Chicago but there are also a lot of bad ones. Isaac and I saw that up close and personal one night. We'd actually just finished watching a movie that scared the daylights out of me and we stopped a couple of blocks from college in downtown Chicago at our local McDonalds. It was at the time known as "ghetto" McDonalds because of the large amount of homeless folks hanging out around and in it. You couldn't go in without being solicited for change, but really you can't get very far on the street anywhere in Chicago without being solicited for change.

In any case, we were sitting in a corner eating our burgers when a cop came in and told a ragged looking black man in a wheel-chair  with a cast on his leg that had been soliciting around the restaurant that he had to leave. The guy grumbled and began to turn his wheelchair towards the door but with a total attitude, like a two year old that is "obeying" but attempting to annoy the daylights out of their parents by obeying as badly as possible, you know? Well, cops get that all the time in Chicago so I do sympathize. The cop at this point grabbed the wheelchair handles and began to push the guy towards the door, and that made the guy get mad and resist. He told the cop to take his hands off the wheelchair, to let him do it himself, and not to touch him. They got loud. Everyone in the restaurant stopped to watch.

Now, like I said, I totally sympathize with the frustrating situation the cop is in. At this point he's just doing his job because soliciting is not allowed in the restaurant and he's attempting to usher a solicitor out. The guy is being contrary. The cop's pride is now in question. However, he's a cop. It's HIS job to be the better man.

All hell broke loose as their voices raised and the guy in the wheelchair grew super angry that the cop wouldn't let go of the wheelchair and stop forcing him to move. He reached down, pulled off the metallic footrest from one side of the wheelchair, and raised it at the cop. Stupid, right? Definitely stupid. The cop, however, grabbed the footrest out of his hand, lifted him out of the wheelchair, threw him against a wall, and began beating the cast with the footrest. The tumbled around the restaurant as the beating continued, the cop hitting him all over and the guy trying to get away. Blood started flowing. Everyone in the restaurant is trying to figure out what to do - an old woman started screaming, "Call the cops, call the cops, why isn't somebody calling the cops!" We all looked at each other helplessly.... how do you call the cops on a cop? Isaac and a few others guys stood up and readied themselves to intervene if the fight happened to get near their family or date...

Their tumbling fight led them out the door and down the street. The woman in the restaurant kept crying and the rest of us looked at each other with wide eyes. What DO you do? We'd just witnessed police brutality.

So.. yeah. Chicago Code actually feels quite real to me. It's a little surreal to watch.


Bethany said...

I'm interested to check out this tv show. It's on my list I just haven't had a chance to watch a full episode yet!

justaweeblether said...

I agree. It's fun to watch because I know the places they film at, but yet I know that there is so much corruption and it is hard to view the cops as the good guys. :/

That cop definitely stepped over the line as soon as he touched the guy's wheelchair. Most people don't think about it, but a wheelchair is an extension of that person's body. Of course, having worked with homeless individuals, I also know how frustrating it can be to deal with them day in and day out.