Although Black Chicagoans died from police brutality, of equal significance was disability and death from poor medical services, lead paint, decaying buildings, fires, and drugs. Given these multiple dangers, “destroying” gangs would not end the violence. Police planted guns in a Black person’s apartment–then raided it–and then murdered him in his bed. At the same time, there was more covert, structural forms of violence such as housing, loan, and credit exploitation that could destroy Black lives and trigger Black rage. Even daily life—a walk to a school or library, the purchase of a car or a home, the running of a business or putting in time at a job—was not a simple matter for Black Americans for each of these carried potential or actual destructions. The distortions of racism meant that any of these essential acts could enmesh them in structures of control that were directly or indirectly violent. Since hostile emotions were escalating in Negroes after World War II, only Rev. M.L. King Jr. could have led the Montgomery Bus Boycott for an entire year without violent retaliation against the attack dogs, fire hoses, and other barbarism instigated by extremely sadistic Euro-American terrorists. Chicago White terrorism and riots—complete with swastikas and open beatings and killings of innocent and unarmed Black People by the police and others–were so horrendous in the 1960s that Dr. King instituted the first significant “Northern Freedom Movement” by a major Civil Rights force. It was a campaign directed against overwhelming poverty in every aspect of life–including de-facto segregation; economic inequality; crowded, segregated living conditions that compromised mental, physical, social, and Spiritual health; lack of jobs; institutional racism, and countless oppressive displays. Despite tiny improvements out of hellish Brute actions after World War II, Black People’s conditions in the bottomless pit were getting worse, as in continually being met with fire-bombings by hate-filled Whites. Upon his arrival in 1966, Dr. King was met with bricks and bottles thrown at him, with one striking him so forcefully as to send him to one knee. He said the White mobs had not been this bad in Mississippi or Alabama–nor as resistant to change. Meanwhile, the Civil Rights movement was going in two ways. One was in starting to splinter, with militant Black activists who disagreed with Dr. King’s nonviolent tactics, even booing him at times. The other way was that the1966 Congress and Supreme Court had struck blows against the legal regime of “White Supremacy”.
The Black population of 1 million was confined to 10 neighborhoods–all barred from jobs and unions–consigned youth to inferior schools–and excluded Blacks from meaningful positions within city politics. The police department, racist, more in informal procedures than in written policies, was entirely controlled by the city administration–the White power structure. Throughout the entire force, police admitted they owed promotions to a ward committeeman and thus the job of the police was to keep Blacks in line—a “line” outside laws. Policy change would not touch its deepest problem—its role as enforcers of a racist political system. A reason the police department was the greatest gang recruiting tool in Chicago was that they treated everybody as if they were gang-bangers.
In 1968, Chicago radical Black police officers, opposed to any police brutality, created the Afro-American Patrolmen’s League (AAPL). Its first president, Edward “Buzz” Palmer’s statement of purpose: “We are going to elevate the Black policeman in the Black community to the same image status enjoyed by the white policeman in the white community—that is, a protector of the citizenry, not a brutal oppressor. . . . We will no longer permit ourselves to be relegated to the role of brutal pawns in a chess game affecting the communities we serve. We see our role as protectors of this community and that is the role we intend to fulfill” (Satter J. Urban History, 2015). Can this come back? Since USA culture’s problematic tendency has always been to cast Black men as primitives or “Faceless Monsters,” with a unique and alluring access to violence and pleasure, Black Power embraced this and much more. Such included pride in Black forms of cultural expression; a sense of responsibility for the well-being of other Black people; a drive to uncover Black history; community control of institutions; some form of Black separatism; and an understanding of Black oppression within the United States as analogous to the experience of colonized people internationally.