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Mitchell: Disrespect on street also present in Rhymefest’s run-in

Che 'Rhymefest' Smith at WVON studios. | Sun-Times file photo

Follow @MaryMitchellCSTRapper Che “Rhymefest” Smith’s run-in at a Chicago Police station fits a troubling pattern.

Although Rhymefest didn’t make race the issue, the Chicago Police officers he claims mistreated him when he tried to report being robbed at gunpoint were black females.

That’s unfortunate.

At the heart of the violence ravaging the black community is the level of disrespect black people are showing for one another.

That disrespect was on full display in the video Rhymefest shot to back up his claim that Chicago Police treated him “disgustingly.”

“This isn’t just police officers. Go to the DMV at 95th and King. It is the same thing. It is unprofessionalism. If someone is sitting at a desk looking at Candy Crush and eating cookies, that means the sergeant, and the bosses and supervisors at the top are allowing systematic oppression through their employees,” Rhymefest told me in an interview Wednesday.

The encounter could become a CPD training video for what not to do when a black man comes to a police station to report a crime.

It also shows police officers working at the desk are under as much scrutiny as their colleagues in the field.

OPINION

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Rhymefest was offended when the unidentified black female officer insisted he keep his hands where she could see them. Rhymefest considered it “patronizing” when the officer questioned why the robber hadn’t taken his cellphone and why he didn’t report the crime at the police station nearer where the crime occurred.

He also accused one of the female officers of playing a “twerk” video while another police officer was taking his report.

The back-and-forth with the police officer eventually led Rhymefest to begin filming the exchange.

“Not in a police station,” the unidentified black female officer told him with a neck roll and finger-pointing.

When Rhymefest kept filming, the officer hopped up and came from behind the counter. At that point, a white male police officer intervened, telling Rhymefest that a supervisor had asked that he leave.

Rhymefest continued filming, while telling the officer: “When I walked through the door and she asked me what’s wrong, she kept eating, she kept playing Candy Crush. He ended up giving the white officer the details of the robbery, while the black females officers walked away.

“Thank you, sir,” Rhymefest told the white officer. “Thank you, too, sisters.”

Obviously, if someone puts a gun to your head and runs off with your wallet, you’re not going to want to be hassled when you try to file a police report.

I get that.

But unfortunately, this incident will likely alienate a lot of black police officers — important allies in the struggle for police reform — at a time when cultural sensitivity is desperately needed.

The Grammy-winning rapper turned political activist has offered to get the robber a job and has written a song about his encounter.

The Chicago Police Department has apologized for the way these officers handled Rhymefest’s complaint and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has vowed that the officers involved would be disciplined. The mayor met privately with Rhymefest on Wednesday afternoon.

“I would love to work with the mayor on how to bring reconciliation and standards back. We have to fix it for the sake of not letting the city become unhinged, and the city is becoming unhinged. Everyone feels it,” Rhymefest said shortly before going into the meeting at City Hall.

Afterward he declined to discuss details of the conversation, but his spokesman called it “productive.”

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