Free Markets, Free People

Whatever happened to tar and feathers?

This is the story of 20 year-old Tiawanda Moore. It seems she was dissatisfied with a contact she’d had with a Chicago police officer.

Moore, of Hammond, Ind., was being interviewed at police headquarters about her complaint that a patrol officer had grabbed her breast and given her his phone number when he came to her boyfriend’s South Side apartment on a domestic disturbance call.

No doubt the officer, having Moore’s best interests in mind, thought he would be a much better boyfriend. Sadly, Moore took this concern for her well-being amiss, and decided to file a complaint against the officer. At police headquarters, the investigating officers—who similarly appeared to have only Moore’s best interests at heart—suggested an alternate method of dispute resolution, that is to say, to drop her complaint entirely, as they preferred not to conduct a formal investigation, which would, really, just be an inconvenience to everyone involved. At that time, Moore decided to record the remainder of the conversation.

On the muffled recording, which was played for the jury Tuesday, Internal Affairs Officer Luis Alejo can be heard explaining to Moore that if she dropped the complaint, they could “almost guarantee” that the harassment would not happen again. He also suggested that going that route might save her the time and aggravation of a full investigation.

Ah. You see, if she decided not to demand a formal investigation, the IA investigators could "almost guarantee" that the breast-grabbing officer would get the word to cool his jets. And, isn’t an "almost guarantee" good enough? Not for Moore, apparently, who decided to use her Blackberry to record the conversation, because she felt, for some incomprehensible reason, that the Chicago Police Department might be downplaying her complaint.

And that’s why this case is being heard by a jury, as the quote above indicates.

The officers, of course, are not being tried for corruption or dereliction of duty, of course. Tiawanda Moore is the defendant, on two counts of—I kid you not—eavesdropping on a public official. In response to questioning by Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Jo Murtaugh, Moore said:

“I was sure about what I wanted to do –I wanted him (the officer) to be at least fired from his job,” Moore testified. “I wanted justice, I wanted to be protected.”

But this is not the Chicago Way. The Chicago Way is to slap down hard any civilian peasant who presumes to record their politically-protected betters in a possible wrongdoing.

On the one hand, of course, we all know what the eventual result of an internal affairs investigation would be. The police would carefully investigate the police, and after due course would conclude that the police had done nothing wrong. And recording public officials without their knowledge when they are engaged in corrupt behavior might actually endanger their ability to engage in corruption.

On the other hand, all this could have been avoided by dropping her complaint in return for almost a guarantee that she won’t be bothered in the future.

But in Chicago, public officials, engaged in public duties on the public’s dime, have an expectation of privacy, and cannot be recorded without their consent. You, as a member of the public, can be recorded by the police at any time, with or without your consent, but you can never record them unless they graciously allow it.

The only possible reason for such a law, as far as I’m concerned, is to protect corrupt officials, and to prevent the public from exposing it.

We don’t drag public officials naked and screaming out of their offices to tar and feather them any more. Indeed, we can barely muster up the will to toss out incumbents who vote for such laws. But in a just world, , the Illinos Legislature, Internal Affairs Officer Luis Alejo and Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Jo Murtaugh would, even now, be sporting the sleek plumage of an Albatross from the Exxon Valdez.

UPDATE: A commenter informs me the jury appears to have done the right thing and acquitted Moore. Still, none of the other players are sporting a heavy layer of fine down, so the glass is only half full.

Dale Franks
Google+ Profile
Twitter Feed

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on PinterestEmail this to someone

26 Responses to Whatever happened to tar and feathers?

  • I travel a lot, and get to most major cities once in a while. The one I avoid if at all possible is Chicago.

    I actually made the mistake of taking a vacation in Chicago once. I parked in a perfectly fine spot in Lincoln Park where a car had just pulled out, looked carefully for any signs indicating restrictions on parking, and found none. And of course got towed. 

    It was obvious that the entire towing operation was a revenue-generating racket. The cops were obnoxious and rude, and seemed to take pleasure from extorting money from visitors.

    So they’ll get no more of my leisure money, ever, and when I do business there, I charge extra just because I don’t want to go. I’d like to see the Field Museum someday, but not badly enough to put up with the closest thing America has to a satrapy.

  • Instapundit has the link. She was acquitted. Seems the jury was sane.

  • Tar & Feathers won’t come until the collapse.
    Unfortunately (depending on your perspective), it won’t be tar & feathers but something much more uncomfortable.

  • You have part of your story wrong…she was the PERP in the domestic disturbance call!!!!!!
    “At the time of her arrest, Moore worked as a stripper at The Factory Gentleman’s Club on the Far South Side, records show. She has a history of domestic violence, and her boyfriend, Marcus Galimore, has been granted four emergency orders of protection against her since 2009, records show.”

    • Irrelevant; the cop in question thought he could act in the role of sexual predator with impunity.  You want that guy responding to your college-age daughter’s apartment to investigate a break-in in the small hours?
      And, she must have some serious mojo, or her boy friend is a COMPLETE idiot.

    • You have part of your story wrong…she was the PERP in the domestic disturbance call!!!!!!

      Umm, I guess you didn’t catch the overall sarcastic tone of that part of the post, or the fact the I didn’t put any blame on anyone for the call.
      You’re kinda missing the forest for the trees.

      • Yeah, I wasn’t actually being critical of your post – sorry if it came off that way – I was just being a salacious.


  • Although the way the police handled her complaint was wrong, it doesn’t automatically make her complaint legitimate.

    • except for the whole – just drop the charges thing on the tape.
      that’s not  the ‘Handled it wrong” department – it’s another department entirely.

      • Who would you sweep something like this under the rug for?  Would you be more likely to try to make this go away if you thought your cop buddy was faslely accused or if you thought he was likely guilty?  Which one would you be more inclinded to stick your neck out for?

        Considering that an innocent cop facing such a charge gets treated like he was guilty until the final investigation comes int and has the rumor hanging over his head forever especially if it makes the news regardless of the final outcome.  Some of the Duke Lacrosse players probably still get spit on despite being vindicated several times over. 

        So there’s motive to make it go away whether it actually happened or not. 

        • Who would you sweep something like this under the rug for?

          When I was a cop? Nobody. You investigate the hell out of it because:
          A) You have the integrity to do your job properly
          B) If true, the cop is scumbag who shouldn’t be wearing the uniform
          C) If untrue, you get to charge the original complainant for filing a false report.
          My presumption, based on my experience, is you sweep it under the rug to protect the cop simply because he is a cop.
          Screw that.

          • Plus, its not exactly a minor offense – he grabbed her breast.

          • The problem is the coverup doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the accused cop since it seemed spontaneous.  So carrying forward an accusation = guilt is ok because his fellow officers decided to do him a favor?
            “you sweep it under the rug to protect the cop simply because he is a cop.  Screw that.”
            Yeah and that’s a valid point.  Your article should stand whether the accusation was true or false.  But I would imagine if that the accusation was false, it would totally gut any outrage your article might generate.  The fact we don’t know either way, is a bit of a damper.
            So are you saying presuming guilt to help put some fire in article is justified?

        • Well, it sure didn’t work out the way Alfafa the cop and Stymie the IA guy and Spanky the prosecutor expected.
          So now the cop has the reputation the IA guy was trying to cover and the outcome makes the entire organization look corrupt and thuggish.
          And justly so – it’s pretty clear to me that they charged her to punish her for complaining and having the chutzpah to carry it forward.  They could deny the charge, say they investigated it, find no crime.
          no…..instead they swore out a charge against her for recording them.
          Punishment for daring to complain.

  • Completely and totally off topic – I think that earth quake in Washington shook something loose the other day – we have water, falling out of the SKY!  no, really, I’m not kidding! here in Dallas, and I was wondering if anyone can tell me what it means.
    Is this caused by global warming?
    Thank you.

    • We have these weird thunder and lightening things, too, down here near Houston.  Like the opening scenes in War of the Worlds…  Spooky.  Run away…run away…!!!!

  • The pendulum swings.  Back in the ’60s and ’70s, the police were “the pigs” and “the fuzz”.  Popular movies like “Smokey and the Bandit” portrayed police officers at best as buffoons, and movies like “Serpico” portrayed them as outright villains.  As the ’80s and ’90s came along, the image of the police was rehabilitated, and we got movies like “Die Hard” and “Lethal Weapon” that portrayed the police in a much more favorable, heroic light.

    Unfortunately, the reality is that the police, thanks to the war on drugs and now the WoT, have acquired much more power and a tendency to treat policing as a military operation.  Civilians are not to be served and protected; they are “suspects” to be cuffed, booked, and interrogated.  Resistance is to be overcome quickly and violently both to safeguard the officers and to help ensure that evidence isn’t destroyed by the suspects.  We have police armed and trained to conduct no-knock raids like Marines in Fallujah.

    People don’t like that very much, and complain.  The police, who doubtless think of themselves as doing their best in a tough and often thankless job, don’t appreciate criticism.  Naturally enough, they resent being taped and videoed, and do what they can to see to it that such surveillance is minimized.  One obvious way to do that is to criminalize it.

    Perhaps we are trending back toward what we had in the ’70s: a “we vs. they” relationship with the police.  Bad for everybody.

    Dale Franks – [T]his is not the Chicago Way. The Chicago Way is to slap down hard any civilian peasant who presumes to record their politically-protected betters in a possible wrongdoing.

    I seem to recall reading that the CPD lowered if not eliminated standards for police officer trainees, apparently as a result of accusations of RAAAAAACISM.  Talk about a job where it’s best to set the HIGHEST standards…

    • At least we now understand where the current incarnation of the DOJ got it’s operational procedures and policies.

    • Couple things, doc…
      1. Old movies are like time machines.  Watch a crime movie from the 40s or 50s.  This is NOT a new phenomenon.
      2. There is a real tendency for anybody given power to abuse it.
      3. There is…always has been…a tension between civil liberties and good police work.  There should be.
      4. A psychologist friend used to do all the pre-admission screening for several Texas counties for LEO trainees.  She tells me most of them score as sociopaths on standardized tests.
      5. A good cop is very hard to be, and they should have laurels placed on their heads.
      6. There is not enough money in the world to entice me to be a LEO, partly because I would fear becoming an abuser of power myself (also the reason I never entertained being a prosecutor…I’ve know too many)
      7. One of the best innovations in recent memory is the dash-cam in most police cars.  Sobering effect.

      • 1.  Yep.  Judging by those old film noir classics, cops slapping a suspect around was not only normal, it was pretty much expected and smiled upon.  Gotta get results, you know.

        2.  Absolutely, something our liberal friends don’t seem to get with their current fetish about centralizing power in DC and trying to run the country like Red China.

        3.  I agree.  The pendulum swings; in the ’30s, we wanted gangsters stopped, so the cops got machineguns and dispensations to ambush / kill hoodlums like Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde.  By the ’60s, we wanted the cops to stop slapping people around, so we got internal affairs divisions, lawsuits, etc.  By the ’80s, we were tired of letting drug dealers and other crooks go on “technicalities”, so we got no-knock raids and “three strikes” laws.  Etc.

        4.  I’m not terribly surprised: to be a cop, you have to want it, which means that you must have some desire to push other people around.

        5.  Absolutely.

        6.  Ditto.  Being a prosecutor, on the other hand…

        7.  Yes.  I can understand why cops hate them, but they are a great idea.

    • Privacy?  At a public meeting?  That was the reason?

      • No, that was the lame-assed fig-leaf.  The REASON was the coward congresscritter didn’t want exposure on the interweb.
        Get the FLUCK out of the kitchen…!!!  Find a nice TENURED job at a moose college if you are afraid of accountability.  Jeebus…!!!

        • Kinda comical that he thinks the media would be ‘responsible’ with their copy of the recording.
          Like Ed Schultz was the other day with Perry’s ‘black cloud’ speech?