Recently a popular radio talk show host shared the news that Chicago Mayor Lori Lighfoot fired Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson. Chief Johnson was to retire within a month; however, in late October, Chief Johnson was found asleep in his police cruiser with the car still running. News accounts at that time noted he may have had some type of medical episode. When I initially heard about the incident, the details provided by news outlets were vague and seemed sketchy. I figured Chief Johnson had been drinking and was inebriated. Mayor Lightfoot participated in Chief Johnson’s retirement festivities (including a press conference celebrating his accomplishments) and only learned what actually happened after the inspector general’s investigation.
The IG’s report confirmed that Chief Johnson had been drunk and when confronted by an officer, he drove away and later tried to cover up his misdeed. (It was later reported that Chief Johnson had been seen drinking at a bar for a “few hours” with a woman who was not his wife.) Mayor Lightfoot was livid. Apparently, she felt duped and deemed the Chief’s conduct unethical. Since Chief Johnson was the city’s top cop, I certainly understand her position. Ok, well right up to this part, I don’t feel in danger of losing my “black card” but after this point, I just may lose it as I am puzzled as to how we (black folks) unfailingly support our own, even when we are wrong. The talk show host (I would say her name, but I don’t have thousands of listeners like her [well deserved I should add] and I don’t feel like enduring the drama that would certainly ensue should I upset her or them. No, I am not a coward but aint nobody got time for that.)
Anyway, I digress. I listened to to the program and later listened to others who all seemed to echo the same point: They were glad Chief Johnson was fired and were unanimous in their belief that his firing was karma for the way the case involving Jussie Smollett was handled. What does one thing have to do with the other? Karma is defined as what happens to a person as a result of their actions. Empire actor Jussie Smollett filed a false police report wherein he stated he was attacked by two men for being gay. The investigation revealed that Smollett staged the attack in an attempt to get a pay raise from the hit show Empire. The two men involved in the attack, under intense pressure and scrutiny, reluctantly shared that Smollett paid them to participate in the attack. Jussie Smollett lied about a very serious crime which unfortunately happens all too frequently against gay Americans. Untold law enforcement personnel were diverted to handle this high-profile case, no doubt taking time away from more pressing criminal matters in Chicago. If we are outraged, it should be about that. Did I miss reading some important detail which changes the fact that Smollett lied? Karma? Really?! The fact that Jussie Smollett lied has nothing to do with Chief Johnson. I read no news accounts which said during Chief Johnson’s involvement in the Smollett case he acted unethically or engaged in criminal behavior. Chief Johnson was doing his job. The fact that he was terminated was solely because he was driving drunk and attempted to cover that fact up. If you feel better thinking that now justice has been done, I am truly at a loss to understand that position.
I am thankful that no one was harmed by Chief Johnson during his drunken episode. I support Mayor Lightfoot’s decision; however, stop telling me that is karma. Part of our struggle is to refrain from glossing over criminal or unethical behavior by our own which seems like payback for the many atrocities we endure daily in this racist society. I get it. It's very hard to see clearly through the lens of perpetual inequity and injustice. However, we are so much better than that. I know with every fiber of my being we are; I see the essence of the great people we are every single day.
Lastly, don’t get me started on the rampant belief in our community that just because you are a black man and aspire to buy NBC you get a pass to drug and rape women. “They only came after him because he wanted to buy a major network. He was only convicted because he was a threat.” He may have been a threat to the entertainment industry; I don’t know. However, what I believe is that he was in fact an even bigger threat to women.