The Christmas season is never complete for me unless I watch the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.” James Stewart plays George Bailey, a man who represents all that is good about America, even though he has his share of personal trials and tribulations.
The movie, which premiered in 1946, has survived through the ages. As I watched it with the eyes of a modern-day woman, I was struck with how many current social situations the movie touched upon that have so much relevance to America today.
There is one scene in the movie that stands out for me the most. Let me give you the background to set up that scene. George Bailey’s guardian angel Clarence grants George his wish of having never been born. George goes to all his favorite haunts and finds that no one knows him. At some point while in the middle of town he confronts his wife Mary, played by Donna Reed, who has become a spinster since George was never born. As Mary screams and faints from the encounter, George runs away as the police officer Bert fires wildly at him.
It was at this moment in the film that I had to ask myself whether we, as modern day Americans, have it wrong about what the police do and don’t do. If in 1946, a man runs away and the police shoot at his back, then perhaps the problem that exists is that police are doing what they’ve always done and it is us the viewing public that has it all wrong.
Fast forward to the day after Christmas 2015. It’s around 4:30 in the morning and police have been called to the 4700 block of West Erie in West Garfield Park. The police are responding to a 9-1-1 call because a young man with mental issues has tried to attack his father with a baseball bat. The actual details of what occurred have yet to be told, but in the end, Bettie Jones and Quintonio Legrier are dead.
I went to the rally that was held in front of the house on Sunday, Dec. 27. I am not buying the narrative that has so far been put forth by the police. The two-story building on West Erie has a main front door, which opens into a small vestibule. There are two doors sitting side-by-side behind the front door. The door on the left opens in and leads to the first-floor apartment of Bettie Jones. The door on the left obviously leads to stairs and the second-floor apartment where Quintonio was. The bullet holes in the front door and front siding say that the story the police have told should be scrutinized carefully by the Justice Department, which is monitoring the CPD.
For if the front door opens in, and Bettie Jones’ apartment door opens in, how can the police see or know what is happening on the right when the view is blocked by the open main door? And although the police have come out and termed Bettie Jones’s death an “accident,” there are a lot of questions that needs answers.
One of the things that also have been bothering me is that the mayor has known for over a year since the night Laquan McDonald was killed that there were questions about that slaying. Laquan was obviously in need of mental health care and the mayor hadn’t made any calls for changes or updates to the police training.
Now that we have two more people killed by the out-of-control officers from the 11th District, only now does the mayor issue a statement calling on the police department to review its crisis training protocol.
George Bailey survived being shot at and his story had a happy ending. However the reality is that many wonderful lives are being cut short by bullets flying. Fixing that problem is an absolute necessity.