It isn’t the allegations of blatant police abuse that is doing the most damage to our city.
Frankly, the average person is willing to give police the benefit of the doubt.
But disrespectful incidents are driving an anti-cop sentiment in predominantly black communities.
For instance, my sister, who lives on the Far South Side, was darn near hysterical after her encounter with a white Chicago Police officer over the weekend.
He wrote her a $75 ticket for stopping/standing across the street from the 95th and Dan Ryan L Station.
Everyone on the South Side knows that’s where you unload passengers.
While my nephew thinks nothing of catching public transportation at all hours, his mother worries about his safety.
So my sister does what a lot of black mothers do.
After her son visits, she insists on driving him to the 95th Street Dan Ryan L station.
On Saturday night, the routine trip turned ugly.
According to my sister, she had just pulled into a spot across the street from the L station, when a police car came out of an alley and put the high beams on her car.
“I threw my hands up, like ‘What?’” she told me.
“She’s been dropping me off there for years. It was ridiculous,” my nephew said.
When the officer approached, my sister insisted that her son get out of the car. He crossed the street and watched his mother from the CTA bus platform.
“She put me out of the car, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. Were they going to come after me? I didn’t know what to do. I felt extremely powerless,” he told me.
According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, the area where my sister would have pulled over is a “Bus Only” lane.
“It is an extremely busy CTA hub, with a zillion cars and huge construction project,” a spokesman told me.
Still, the only “No Parking/Tow Zone” sign is posted at the northeast corner in front of a gas station nearly a half-block away.
So why didn’t police give her a warning?
Why didn’t this Chicago police officer see this interaction as an opportunity to show his humanity? After all, police officers must know the anxiety these mothers have because of the gun violence.
Apparently, my sister wasn’t humble enough.
She said when she asked the officer why he was writing a ticket, he told her she “threw up her hands.”
“I feel like I’ve just been harassed by the police,” she told me sobbing.
Posting a squad car in the alley to ambush motorists dropping off people at the L station seems like a waste of manpower considering the shootings on the South Side.
But the harm of negative police encounters goes far beyond the inconvenience of going to court or having to pay fines.
Incidents like this contribute to the perception that police officers patrolling the black community have no respect for the people who live there.
This police officer certainly could have given my sister a warning.
For whatever reason, he chose not to.
Too many other police officers make that same choice when dealing with black people, and that’s a big part of the problem.
“There were two other cars parked in front of us. I just think we were low-hanging fruit,” my nephew said.