Chicago Style | Planet Ryan - Republic-Times | News

Chicago Style | Planet Ryan

By on December 9, 2015 at 8:10 am

Last week, after the Chicago Police Department released long-awaited dash cam footage of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot multiple times by a Chicago police officer while laying in the middle of the road, everybody braced for the worst-case scenario.

In my day job, we cover such events and to say we had all hands on deck wouldn’t do it justice. We geared up for around-the-clock coverage — because if it was to even partially mimic what happened in Ferguson or Baltimore, it would probably be magnified greatly in a city as large and populated as Chicago.

But nothing really happened. What’s so surprising about that is in Ferguson, half of the city burned based on anger which was based on a long list of false information (remember the “hands-up” stuff – it wasn’t true).

So when the Chicago video footage was set to be released, we had solid proof that this officer was a bad apple. We also have the background behind the case, with the footage being held from the public for a staggering 13 months. It took more than one year for a first-degree murder charge. Chicago folks were very angry about that and the issue transcended political party lines for the most part.

The bottom line is that the state’s attorney seemingly dropped a big ball with dire ramifications.

But guess what? Nothing happened.

I expected at any moment that night to see breaking news that Chicago was on fire. I really did. But nothing happened. Nada.

Sure, hundreds of protesters gathered in the streets and caused some minor disruptions during the Thanksgiving holiday shopping blitz. A few people committed some minor vandalism, but nothing burned, no police cruisers were destroyed and we didn’t watch looters emptying stores on live TV.

Trust me when I tell you news producers everywhere were licking their chops, as the Ferguson and Baltimore events were massive ratings machines. Not that anyone in the media wants to see bad stuff happen, but from a business perspective, they aren’t exactly upset if it does.

Anyway, I must say I’m more than impressed with the mostly-measured response to the video release.

Americans are allowed to gather and protest whatever they want – a right afforded to them by the U.S. Constitution. But, as we saw in

Ferguson and Baltimore, that precious right can be grossly mistreated and quickly morph into criminal activity.

Hopefully Chicago stays under control. For now, it has, but as we’ve seen in the past, it would only take the tiniest spark to ignite a giant, ugly powder keg of emotion.

Ryan Ledendecker

Ryan is a biweekly columnist for the Republic-Times newspaper. When he's not working, he enjoys a good movie, bass fishing, and CrossFit.