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Sneed: Rep. Bobby Rush feels 'like it's 1969 all over again'

U.S. Bobby Rush (pictured in April 2015) says: “I now feel like it’s 1969 all over again,” referring to the backlash now over the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald by white Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

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Rush to judgment . . .

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush was once called the Black Panther who came in from the cold.

On Dec. 4, 1969, Rush — a 22-year-old member of the Illinois Black Panther Party, was reeling from news that fellow Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark had been slain in a 4 a.m. police raid on a Chicago apartment he had left hours earlier.

“I now feel like it’s 1969 all over again,” said Rush, referring to the backlash now over the 2014 shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald by white Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.

“It’s eerie,” Rush told Sneed. “There are so many comparisons I can draw between then and now.”

“Chicago police directed by then-State’s Attorney Ed Hanrahan ordered that nighttime raid in 1969 which they called a shootout,” he said. (Please note: Two Chicago Police Officers were killed by Black Panthers a month earlier.)

“It wasn’t a shootout,” Rush said. “Only one bullet was fired by Fred Hampton amidst a hail of bullets fired by the police into that apartment. It was still nighttime when it happened. They were sleeping,” he said.

“Last year, Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by one police officer,” Rush said.

“It just seems to be all the same. . . . Nothing seems to have changed. The State’s Attorney Office, who didn’t release the videotape on McDonald for 13 months, is still problematic. The cop culture is still the cop culture.”


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At 11:30 a.m. Friday, Rush, who is calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the McDonald shooting, will hold a press conference at his district office, 700 E. 79th St., “to play a videotape of a homeless man accused of stealing toothpaste and a toothbrush out of a store who was chased down an alley by a CVS store manager and thrown to the ground in 2012. He wound up being choked to death,” Rush said.

“The victim’s name was Anthony Kyser. He was 35 years old,” Rush said. Press reports note the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Kyser’s death a homicide; the police ruled it an accident.

“I pleaded with State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to investigate, but she said she would not bend to political pressure. There was no indictment.”

“It’s just another case of Tapegate,” he said.

“It’s always the same kind of cover-up. The code of silence that existed then, exists now.”

“Today it’s the same problem, different name. Where police officers get away with misconduct and murder and never are brought to justice. The Fraternal Order of Police protects the police. So does the Police Board. Two powerful protectorates of police abuse,” he said.

“They lied back then. They lie now.”

“It’s still the same sense of outrage by African-Americans that is being felt now,” he said.

“Back in 1970, demonstrations erupted over the Panther raid. Now demonstrations are erupting over Laquan McDonald’s death.

“Today we know Laquan McDonald was not an imminent threat.

“It’s almost like a replay. Watching a movie I’ve seen before. Maybe different actors but same plot. Same protagonists,” he said.

Rush, who subsequently served time in prison on misdemeanor gun charges — is now a leading advocate of gun control legislation.

“I’m still an activist in my own way.

“In my spirit, in my soul, I see Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in a spiritual orchestration of a call for justice now,” Rush said.

“But a peaceful orchestration for justice.”

Tipsville . . .

Sneed hears rumbles that Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who is now asking the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights division to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the Chicago police department in light of the McDonald case, may be setting herself up for a possible bid for next mayor of Chicago.

“She could have done something earlier,” said a top Dem source. “She is now doing what is politically expedient for her.”

Do tell.

The pen set . . .

Sneed hears artist/writer/scribe Tom O’Gorman, who has written books on everything from Irish art to Chicago politics and architecture, has been signed up to write the popular social column for Skyline authored by the legendary Ann Gerber, who is 92.

Watch for his pen to start scratching in the New Year.

Sneedlings . . .

Watch for attorney Sam Adam Jr., who represented former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in his first corruption trial, to endorse Donna More’s bid for Cook County State’s Attorney. . . . Today’s birthdays: Tyra Banks, 42; Marisa Tomei, 51, and Jay-Z, 46.

Follow Sneed on Twitter: @Sneedlings