Keeping retirement weird. Justice is the public face of love.



I saw the protests on the news at 4:30 and just read your blog. Some protesters were chanting about peace and profit while others were blocking store and mall entrances.

You and I are pensioners who will get a check on December 1st

Some of the people in those stores will see less in their pay because of commissions lost today, while others who rely on tips for a living might not have enough carfare to get home tonight. Keep up the good work and maybe next year the protesters will need Metra to get to the stores.

– Bob Busch


You have written comments to this blog dozens of times. Sometimes you have written to agree with me. Sometimes you have written to disagree. It’s all good.

I hope that we don’t disagree that the murder and the cover-up of the murder of Laquan McDonald is worthy of protest.

If you don’t agree with me that the actions of the police officer, police Superintendent McCarthy, Anita Alvarez and Rahm were protest-worthy, than the tactics of the protest are really not the issue that divides us.

I do believe that. It is why my family was marching up North Michigan Avenue on Friday.

So let’s talk about protest tactics.

We marched from Michigan and Wacker to the Water Tower. I didn’t block any doors. But that was only because I didn’t know that some of my fellow-protesters were doing it. I would have done it if I knew about it. It would have given me the chance to talk face-to-face to folks doing shopping. I would have talked to them about the tale of our two cities: A city of those who can afford to shop at Ralph Lauren and those who can  barely afford Aldi.

A third of our city lives below the poverty line.

I would have talked to them about police violence and the school-to-prison pipeline.

I love engaging people in conversation about important things. Some engage back. Some don’t. It’s all good.

I know that the North Michigan Avenue retailers made a big deal and expressed their sudden concern for their employees’ income loss.

The truth of the matter is that they have made a mess of things all by themselves. For all but the wealthiest, the economy sucks and those retailers can’t sell their stuff. Sales are down and it isn’t because protesters blocked their doors for a few hours on Saturday.

I saw some rich white lady in a fur coat on TV last night complaining that her right to shop had been violated. She looked silly. Heartless. All that was missing was her saying, “Let them eat cake.”

Protests disrupt things. That’s the idea.

When Martin Luther King led the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, people lost money.

When the UAW shuts down an automobile company, workers at all the suppliers are laid off even though they are not on strike themselves.

As a teacher, when you went on strike, families of the kids you taught had their lives disrupted. They didn’t choose that to happen. But it was necessary.

You don’t like the tactics that young people chose to show their righteous moral outrage?

Do something else.

If we both agree that what happened to Laquan McDonald is wrong and that the cover-up is wrong, than get out there and organize around the tactics that you think are better.

If we don’t agree?

See ya later,


It brings out the rats.


Photo credit: Fred Klonsky

Publishing a blog is something I like to do. It is always great when people I don’t know come up to me at a meeting or at a protest like today on North Michigan and tell me how much they like what I do here.

But certain things seem to bring out the rats.

Actually one thing.

It happened around the time of Ferguson. And Baltimore. And now here in Chicago with the release of the video showing the brutal murder of African American seventeen-year old Laquan McDonald.

I start getting different kinds of comments that I can screen out. But I read them before I trash most of them.

They will ask me to defend what some protester said.

Or they will tell me that I must hate all cops.

All white people.

Or some other nonsense.

Sometimes I post the least offensive and make some snarky remark or mock them.

And then it turns real ugly.

Maybe they will throw in something about me being a Jew.

Or an n-loving greedy teacher Jew.

Of course they always hide behind being anonymous. And rest assured that these racist comments do not hurt my feelings. They are just words. They are nothing compared to the reality of those who must face the concrete effects  of white racism in America.

Not one of these anonymous rats who crawl out at times like this will ever express a word of sympathy for an African American seventeen-year old who threatened nobody but was riddled with 16 bullets by a Chicago cop.

Whose murder was covered up for 400 days by the good leaders of our city.

Because they have no sympathy for Laquan McDonald.

They just don’t feel anything.

Except race-hatred.

Random thoughts.


On the Friday after Thanksgiving, when our kids were little, we would take them downtown, like thousands of other Chicagoans, to look at the Christmas windows at Marshall Fields on State Street.

We would go to the first-floor cosmetics department and stand in the middle of crowds of holiday shoppers. “Look up,” I would tell them, although they did not need the instruction since we did it every year. And we would gaze at the beautiful Tiffany ceiling.

Other shoppers seeing us looking up would stop and look up too. And our kids would giggle that we got them to do it.

Next, it was to the mattresses on some upper floor for a closer look at the Tiffany tiles and a glance at the Great Tree below.

In the Trim-A-Tree department our girls could buy one ornament for our tree. It was a tough decision.

If we were early enough and the line wasn’t too long, we made a brief stop for a brief conversation with Santa Claus.

My God. It was all so traditional.

Our kids are grown and gone. They have families of their own. Many Thanksgivings we see them. Not this year.

We won’t go to Marshall Fields this year. There is no Marshall Fields. It has become a Macy’s.

Today it will be very different in another way.

We are going instead to Michigan and Wacker to join with what I hope will be thousands of others to protest the most brutal killing of Laquan McDonald. An African American seventeen-year old, Laquan McDonald was killed with sixteen bullets from the gun of Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago policeman.

He fired all the bullets in his gun into that young man’s body. And he reloaded and fired again.

He reloaded.

The facts of the killing were supressed at the highest levels – meaning including the Mayor – for over 400 days.

If you live in Chicago, join us at 11AM.

Sixteen shots. The story that broke the silence.


Freelance reporter Jamie Kalven of the Invisible Institute

On February 10 of 2015, Jamie Kalven wrote a story for the website SLATE that blew the whistle on the killing of Laquan McDonald.

Kalven is a freelance journalist. It was Kalven, journalist Brandon Smith and University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman who wouldn’t drop the story even as the rest of Chicago journalists repeat the lies of the CPD, Anita Alvarez and the Mayor as gospel. They filed the FOIA which led a judge to order the video of McDonald’s murder by Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago police officer, to be released Tuesday night.

Ironically, Smith was not permitted by Chicago police to attend Tuesday’s press conference called by the Mayor and the Superintendent. He was barred at the door and had to text his questions to a reporter inside the room.

“The officers are responding to somebody with a knife in a crazed condition, who stabs out tires on a vehicle and tires on a squad car,” Camden said at the scene. “You obviously aren’t going to sit down and have a cup of coffee with them. He is a very serious threat to the officers, and he leaves them no choice at that point but to defend themselves.”

The Chicago press dutifully reported the police account of the incident. The reporter for the local NBC station called it “a clear-cut case of self-defense.” It was also reported that the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), the city agency charged with investigating police shootings, would conduct an investigation, as it does in the case of every “police-involved shooting.”

In its broad outlines, this is a familiar Chicago story: A black American is shot by a Chicago police officer. A police source says the shooting was justified. IPRA announces it is investigating. Then silence. After a year or two, IPRA issues a report confirming that the shooting was indeed justified.

The statistics are stunning. According to IPRA reports, Chicago police officers shoot, on average, several residents a month. Roughly 75 percent of those shot are black. Civil rights lawyers and investigative journalists I’ve talked to who have covered the Chicago police for decades cannot remember the last time criminal charges were brought against a Chicago police officer for a shooting while on duty.

Sometimes before the story of a police shooting evaporates into silence, we briefly hear the voice of a family member or friend trying to find words to describe who the victim was or questioning the shooting. Not so in the case of Laquan McDonald. A ward of the state, he appears not to have left much of a trace in the world. At any rate, there was no one to speak for him during the brief moment of media attention occasioned by his death.

The press coverage did, however, contain a couple of particulars that didn’t meld with the police narrative. A witness, Alma Benitez, was quoted as saying that the shooting was unnecessary, because a number of officers were present and they had control of the situation.

“It was super exaggerated,” she said. “You didn’t need that many cops to begin with. They didn’t need to shoot him. They didn’t. They basically had him face-to-face. There was no purpose why they had to shoot him.”

Read the entire article here.

Prosecutors drop charges against Malcolm London.

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Malcolm London walks out of bond court with his supporters.

The cops picked activist and poet Malcolm London out of the crowd and charged him with felony battery.

The reaction was so immediate and intense that by mid day a judge set him free.

Prosecutors have dropped aggravated battery charges against prominent activist, poet and protest organizer Malcolm London.

“You are free to go,” Judge Peggy Chiampas said Wednesday before the packed courthouse had to be quieted by the sheriff’s deputy.

Asked how he was treated by police, London said, “Well, it was jail.”

Activists had worked all night and morning – on the street and on the internet – demanding London and the other protesters who were arrested in last night’s peaceful protests be released.

By later Wednesday morning #FreeMalcomLondon was the number one trending topic of Twitter.

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Meanwhile the three main perpetrators of the Laquan McDonald murder cover-up are still on the streets and holding their jobs: Mayor Emanuel, State’s Attorney Alvarez and Police Superintendent McCarthy.

Free Malcolm London.

Malcolm London, Chicago poet and activist, was arrested and charged with felonies Tuesday night protesting the murder of Laquan McDonald and the year-long official cover-up.

It took 400 days to arrest the cop who killed Laquan.

It took five minutes to arrest Malcolm London.

Malcolm is still in jail.

Free Malcolm London.