CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Thirty-nine years ago this Sunday, Mayor Richard J. Daley died suddenly.
FOX 32’s Political Editor Mike Flannery took a look back at his often-stormy time in office and he discovered the more some things change, the more they stay the same.
It's startling how many of the problems Chicago faced under Richard J. Daley remain under Rahm Emanuel. There was the same underfunded school system verging on bankruptcy. And, especially, lots of anger about the way police treated African-Americans, complaints that sound eerily familiar.
Complaints about the Chicago Police helped trigger the biggest political rebellion ever faced by the first Mayor Daley. He always defended his cops, even when federal investigators found racial discrimination in police hiring and promotions.
“There's no discrimination here. I look around and I see all types of our society, all elements of our society,” Daley had said.
But in 1972, a longtime ally, South Side Congressman Ralph Metcalfe publicly broke with Daley. Metcalfe had personally complained to the mayor about Chicago police stopping and mistreating his dentist and other black professionals.
"Mayor (Daley) doesn't understand what happens to black men on the streets of Chicago, and probably never will...I've tried to remedy situations on a case-by-case basis...In the brutality field, however, I can't just stand by...I want the system changed,” Metcalfe had said.
More than 40 years after that earlier federal investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice is once again placing Chicago's PD under the microscope. One officer who retired after 23 years on the South and West Side has already requested to meet with the Feds. He notes the force is one-quarter African-American, less than their one-third share of the population.
“The people need fresh officers. They need officers who understand the pulse of the community and that's going to serve the community. We can no longer have an aggressive police officer out there being at will,” said retired police officer Richard Wooten.
A quick look back makes plain that history does repeat itself. What could break the cycle this time is the presence of new technology, video. It's changed the very nature of the debate about police misconduct.