A tale of two infamous Chicago cops

It is no wonder citizens have no respect for the law because the people charged with enforcing it sure don’t

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Former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is scheduled to be released from prison Feb. 3. 

Former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is scheduled to be released from prison Feb. 3.

Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune pool

The recent fate of two notorious law enforcement officials illustrate where we are as a city and our descent into lawlessness.

The first is, of course, the pending release of murderer Jason Van Dyke back into society. Apparently, the “gentle giant,” has served enough time for shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald while he was on duty as a Chicago police officer.

The second is the case of upwardly mobile Sgt. Sam Cirone who “supervised” the investigation of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko. Cirone “bungled” the case and Vanecko was scot-free for punching David Koschman, who later died, until the Sun-Times uncovered malfeasance in how the case was handled. Vanecko eventually served 60 days in jail. And Cirone, for his fine work in the name of “justice,” was promoted to lieutenant.

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The phrase “cops can get away with murder” was always a useful hyperbolic metaphor to illustrate how corrupt cops are. I heard it among adults when I was a kid. Now it’s in the news. It is no wonder citizens have no respect for the law because the people charged with enforcing it sure don’t. They get rewarded with early release and a promotion.

The “city that works,” indeed.

George Tafelski, West Elsdon

King and economics

My eyes lingered over the image of Martin Luther King Jr. in an ad recently placed by a car retailer. The ad, which included a picture of the civil rights leader, read “I have a dream… huge savings all weekend long!”

The ad is a bit tawdry, given that the memory of King, the greatest civil rights leader in American history, is being used for commercial purposes. But it is not surprising.

The ad, however, still serves a purpose. It is often forgotten that King’s remarkable Aug. 28, 1963, speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial included a reminder of what American democracy stands for, couched in the language of economics.

King underlined the promise of freedom in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, calling them a “promissory note.” This promised that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds,” King said. “But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.”

America will remain impoverished until King’s vision of racial justice, democracy and harmony is fulfilled.

Craig Barner, Lincoln Square

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