Monday, May 18, 2009
Chuck Goudie Article
'I have never heard of any City Council member ...'
By Chuck Goudie | Daily Herald Columnist
Tonight is the anniversary of the deadliest event in Chicago Police Department history. On the evening of May 4, 1886, as a drizzle fell on the city's near West side, a labor rally was held in support of something we take for granted: the 8-hour work day.
There was a large, boisterous crowd listening to a number of speakers. But it was so peaceful that even Mayor Carter Harrison Sr. listened for a time.
As the last speaker was reciting his final words about 10:30 p.m., someone threw a pipe bomb at the column of Chicago police officers.
The police opened fire and some of the protesters pulled guns of their own and shot back. After the 5-minute melee, dozens of people lay slaughtered on the street.
Among the dead were seven Chicago police officers. An eighth policeman died later from his injuries.
Some called it a massacre.
It is usually known as the Haymarket Riot.
In polite circles, it is called the Haymarket Affair.
By whatever name, this anniversary of that terrible Chicago event on this date 123 years ago is an opportunity to think about the thousands of people who have served and protected all of us; especially those who have been wounded and killed in the line of duty.
But it is difficult not to be disillusioned about law enforcement these days.
Just this year a Southsider was sentenced for secretly working as a Chicago mobster while he was also on the police force - providing crucial information to the Outfit about an underworld homicide.
Last month, an 18-year Chicago detective was charged in a drunken car crash on the Dan Ryan that killed two innocent victims.
Last week, the son of a disgraced, corrupt Chicago cop was convicted of leaking sensitive information to the mob while working as a deputy United States Marshal.
Also last week, three Chicago cops were cleared in the infamous Jefferson Tap and Grille bar fracas - but not before the department name was sullied by repeated airing of video showing one of the off-duty cops with his hands on the neck of a patron.
There seems to have been a steady stream of embarrassing, unacceptable events involving some of Chicago's "finest."
And if you concentrate just on those, it is easy to avoid being thankful for good cops. But there are more of them, many more, than there are bad ones.
Day after day in this city, the unsung, hardworking majority are trampled by a knucklehead minority that can't stay straight.
I was reminded of this recently, loud and clear, after reporting a story on ABC 7 about a sensitive contract issue raised by a South side alderman. Ald. Anthony Beale was suggesting that police and fire officers forgo $5,000 in what he termed "bonuses," that they receive every year in addition to their regular salaries.
The contractual payments are intended to cover a "uniform allowance" and for what is called "duty availability," which is basically a fee to ensure that officers are reachable for work 24/7.
As I have learned over the years, reports even mildly challenging of police - especially pay or benefits - are met by a voracious response. This was no different.
But one response touched me. That it came from a retired city fire lieutenant shows the symbiosis between cops and firefighters.
His name is Jim McMahon and he wrote to me for one reason. The "18,000 men and woman of the Chicago Police and Fire Departments have been working without a raise or a current contract since 2007 - the old worn out excuse that 'we are currently in tough economic times' doesn't hold any water any more. The economy was doing just fine back in 2007 and the Police and Fire Departments should have been given a contract with a raise back then, just like all of the other city departments did."
What came from McMahon's heart should touch all of us on this anniversary, and as we begin Police Month.
"While in the performance of their duty, I have never heard of any City Council member:
Saving anyone's life
Prying anyone out of a wreck
Chasing an armed criminal down a dark alley
Working to total physical exhaustion
Running into, or on top of, a burning building
Getting 2nd and 3rd degree burns
Diving into the lake, river or lagoon at night - in all seasons
Had someone die in their arms
Putting dead victims in body bags
Getting buried in a building collapse
Comfort an abused child
Catch a communicable disease
Being exposed to deadly carcinogens and other health hazards
Subjected to random drug and alcohol screening
Shot at, stabbed, spit on or assaulted
Getting killed in the line of duty
But I do know of thousands of police and fireman that have, and do all these things on a daily basis without hesitation, and all they've ever asked for is a little respect and a living wage to raise their families with. The average person couldn't, or wouldn't do these jobs effectively, and would never even consider putting themselves in harm's way and risk their life for someone they don't even know, not for any amount of money.
Before anyone passes judgment on the members of the Chicago Police and Fire Departments, I'd challenge them to see if they could last one week alongside these dedicated men and women, and just stay with them, no matter what, and do what they are asked to do, in a moment's notice! This challenge extends to every citizen, journalist, alderman, or any other politician in the city of Chicago, including our Honorable Mayor, Richard M. Daley."
This was published 04 May 09 Goudie was the one who was bitching that Police received uniform allowances . Thank you Jim Mc Mahon !