Of course, as is par for the course, all manner of elected officials and candidates are falling over themselves in an effort to issue the perfect post George Floyd death statement. And they should be the first ones to offer declarations calling for justice system and police reform.
Not one to be left out, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said the following in his own lengthy press release:
I, like many across Kane County and our nation, ask myself if I have contributed to the discord. Have I done my part to strengthen the fabric of America? What have I learned since 2014, the Rodney King beating in 1991 and the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s? We have made some progress, but we can do better.
Wow! Joe McMahon and I actually agree on something – he could do better – much better!
Because while our newly minted and insipid social justice warriors love to lap up these proclamations, those of us who’ve battled systematic racism and bigotry all along prefer to consider an elected official’s track record instead of their various statements.
If you’re actually willing to take the time to take a closer look, the truth is Joe’s general “strengthening the fabric of America” performance leaves quite a bit to be desired. And those shortcomings start with his eminently monochromatic prosecutors.
Approximately 60 prosecutors toil in our Kane County courtrooms at any given time. Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to how many of them are people of color? Two! That’s right! Two! The KCSAO “boasts” just one black female and one Hispanic female ASA (assistant state’s attorney).
To put that in perspective, McMahon’s office hires the children of 16th Circuit Judges with far more frequency than he employs minority prosecutors! That means every last division head is just another old white male, and while some of the first chairs are female, none of them are black or Hispanic.
Not that being Caucasian should automatically disqualify anyone from anything, but whenever any office is that white it fosters the kind of cultural tunnel vision that inevitably culminates in all sorts of racial imbalances.
With the exception of the domestic violence variety, which are driven by 911 calls and not police arrests, walk into any Kane County felony courtroom on any given day and you’ll quickly note that 60 to 70 percent of the accused are minorities. And it ain’t that white folks don’t misbehave, it’s that, with no other frame of reference, those almost all-white prosecutors tend to apply more discretion to defendants who look like they do.
Even when white folks are charged with felonies, the disparity between the plea deals they and their minority counterparts are offered is the stuff of legend. Ask any defense attorney! They’ll tell that McMahon’s office has become so biased in that regard that I’m in the process researching those inconsistent plea offers for a future column.
“But Jeff! Joe McMahon’s on the way out. Perhaps our next State’s Attorney will make a real effort to address those blatant racial inequities.”
Oh! I don’t know about that! Republican state’s attorney nominee, Bob Spence, issued a similar “We’re all made in God’s image” George Floyd statement, but he previously told the press McMahon has done a “great job” and that he intends to “build off his work.”
And that’s after he was well aware of the systematic sexual harassment this journalist uncovered in McMahon’s office last year. So, since Joe asked us how he “could do better,” here’s a few conspicuously basic suggestions.
First, the KCSAO needs to make a sincere effort to attract, hire and retain minority prosecutors. And they need to do this because those who toil behalf of the people should fully represent those people.
Then, you mean to tell me there isn’t a single Northern Illinois minority attorney worthy of serving as a division head or first chair prosecutor? That’s kind of hard to believe.
Lastly, before he departs for the greener pastures he’s been so desperately seeking, I would encourage Mr. McMahon to appoint an independent commission of prosecutors and defense attorneys who would not only attack the minority plea deal disparity head on, but would offer a set of guidelines to prevent that persistent miscarriage of justice going forward.
So, while Joe’s George Floyd statement was one of his better efforts, as my favorite TV judge likes to quip, “You really need to come to court with more than just your flapping gums!” Put more simply, as the greatest Republican who ever lived, Abraham Lincoln, aptly noted, “People’s intentions can be judged better by what they do than by what they say.”