Before last Wednesday’s (11/28) city council meeting, I was beyond impressed with my beloved Elginians’ capacity for patience and tolerance in regard to the DeCynthia Clements shooting. The fact that lady justice is blind can, on occasion, hamper her mobility in certain regards.
The original plan was to write something about that gathering, but then I decided the folks who tried to co-opt it were a vast minority who weren’t speaking for the entire city. As my always fascinating mother used to say, “Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor.”
But now I’m regretting that decision. I should’ve known that all it takes is one simple rumor to bring out the pitchfork and torch bearing crowd, and then all bets are off. So, when some Elgin clergymen jumped on that gossip bandwagon, I finally realized it was time to talk about it.
Somehow, those pastors decided that Police Chief Ana Lalley told them she was bringing officer Chris Jensen back before the Cook County State’s Attorney review of the shooting was complete. Of course, Jensen is the officer who fired the shots that killed Clements.
Since they weren’t concerned with the truth, these men and women of the cloth incited some of their very vocal posse – white, black and Hispanic – to show up on the 28th to demand Jensen not be brought back for any reason whatsoever.
As the late, great philosopher Tom Petty said, when it comes to rumors, people generally “believe what they wanna believe.”
To be fair, most of the folks who spoke at that meeting were civil but misguided. But others decided that acting like a spoiled four-year-old brat was the way to go. A piece of advice to those who threatened to bring Ferguson, Missouri, or Baltimore down on Elgin; throwing a temper tantrum in front of a governing body typically won’t get you what you want.
Not to be outdone, Councilman Terry Gavin, who either had too much to drink before the meeting (again), or he simply couldn’t control himself (again), was the biggest four-year-old of the bunch. Mr. Gavin! What was the point of getting into it with a constituent who was clearly beyond reason, other than trying to prove you were even worse than he was? If that was the case, you succeeded magnificently.
And shame on the white folks who used one unfortunate personal experience to damn the entire Elgin Police Department. Despite my infamous battles with law enforcement, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that 90 percent of police officers do their job and simply go home to their families just like the rest of us.
Having reviewed that council meeting tape, I called Mayor Dave Kaptain and Chief Lalley to ask them if the City had, indeed, reversed their decision on Jensen’s disposition. They assured me that nothing had changed. In fact, the Chief reiterated her statement that they will wait until the State’s Attorney review is complete before they make any decision.
It took all of 15 minutes to get the truth.
And I should’ve written about it then, but I didn’t want to fan the flames of an already smoldering fire. But when a group of 19 clergyman presented Elgin with a letter demanding Jensen not be reinstated under any circumstances, I suddenly remembered that fires rarely go out on their own.
The pastors based their premise on “ethical, moral, and wisdom informed reasons.” Really? I think they based it purely on emotion. There’s certainly nothing ethical about their letter, I’m surprised they could even spell the word “moral,” and wisdom had nothing to do with it, either.
The unfathomable irony of their demand is these are the very same clergymen who consistently claim Ms. Clements’ civil rights were violated, but they apparently believe the only way to resolve that issue is by stripping officer Jensen of his.
I have never been more disappointed in a group of pastors in my life. Every last one of them should resign immediately because they have no idea what it means to be a Christian, much less lead a group of them. So much for adhering to the standard when it really matters. Exactly when did pandering to your congregation become more important than the Bible?
There are 30 hours of body and dash cam footage of that I-90 stop. But most of y’all have only watched eight seconds. Am I disturbed by the ending? You bet I am! In my 60 years I’ve never watched someone get shot and killed. And I wish I never had, because I’m still having nightmares about it.
I can’t get that image out of my head and I probably never will.
But I’ve also watched the entire I-90 segment and what I saw were eminently calm and patient police officers providing Ms. Clements with every opportunity to end the standoff. But let’s say the officers were all wound up and completely unreasonable. That wouldn’t change a damn thing. The City of Elgin still has to follow the rules.
Could they throw Jensen to the wolves and prematurely fire him? Sure they could! But how did terminating officer Jason Lentz for his fascinating social media commentary on Ferguson work out for the city? That’s right! He’s back on the job because a judge said Elgin didn’t follow the rules.
First, Chris Jensen is innocent of any wrongdoing until proven otherwise, and the process to determine that is ongoing. Second, the State of Illinois has a series of explicit statutes which apply to public employees. And third, Elgin has a contract with their police officers’ union that stipulates the specific steps that must be taken in cases like this one.
And nothing is going to change any of that, least of all city council screamers or an overzealous group of Elgin clergyman who clearly forgot to read Matthew 7:1-3 and completely missed Matthew 22:39-40 – if they even read their Bibles at all. That’s the King James version by the way.
If I’m not mistaken, that same book contains a caveat against casting the first stone. And make no mistake, this is nothing more than a public stoning of an officer who deserves the very same due process Ms. Clements did.
Shame on every last one of you!