2016: Chicago’s Olympic Dream, Do They Deserve It?

November 26, 2008 by Stephen Piggott
Filed under: Sports 
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In June of 2008, the International Olympic Committee (ICO) announced that Chicago was one of its 4 finalists to host the 2016 games. The US has not hosted an Olympics since 1996 in Atlanta and many are hoping for a return in 2016.

Chicago’s bid was thought to be behind in the running, trailing Madrid and Tokyo, but Obama’s victory could swing the tide in Chicago’s favor. The big question is does Chicago deserve to host the games?

Obama’s victory in the presidential election has put Chicago on the world stage. The video of the celebrations in Grant Park were displayed around the world and many people are taking renewed interest in America’s second city. For many observers, this new gained attention can only boost Chicago’s Olympic bid. Obama now joins the list of celebs and sports stars appealing for Chicago to host the games in 2016.

But many human rights advocates look to Chicago’s ongoing problem with police brutality as a reason why it should not host in 2016. The brunt of the police brutality and torture is aimed at Chicago’s black male population. In 2006, the UN Committee Against Torture found Chicago in violation of its Convention Against Torture and Cruel Inhuman and Degrading Treatment. This report concluded that a former Chicago police commander Jon Burge and his understudies had tortured over 100 black males in a 19 year span. The men were subjected to suffocation, burns and some had their genitals electrocuted. None of the police officers were ever prosecuted for their crimes.

The violence and racism does not stop with black men however. In recent months there has been a rise in racial profiling and targeting of Latinos by a Chicago security company, Monterrey Security, at area sporting events.

Monterrey is accused of harassing, assaulting, and using racial slurs against Latino fans who attend Chicago Fire soccer games. Monterrey is hired by the Chicago Fire to work at their stadium Toyota Park and also by Soldier Field - both potential venues for the 2016 games. The harassment of Latinos by Monterrey security guards has been going on for nearly 5 years and has only escalated this year. Many guards work for or are connected to the Chicago Police Department including the security company’s owner Juan Gaytan.

In 2002, the Chicago Tribune published an investigative report which sheds some light on the security company’s owner and Monterrey’s polices. While working as a Chicago police officer, a police superintendent recommended that he be fired after an incident in which Gaytan threatened to shoot a man and then got an unnamed accomplice in the police force to paint fake blood on him to make it look like he was the victim. Monterrey also apparently neglected to conduct criminal background checks on its employees during its first year and a half of existence.

If the games were hosted in Chicago there would be a massive increase in the number of Chicago Police officers on duty. Will this increase the number of Chicago Police brutalities against Chicago’s black male population? I for one certainly don’t want to wait around until the games are upon us to find out.

Racial profiling and brutality need to be addressed now, not just because of the Chicago’s Olympic bid but because it’s time we confronted our city’s injustices. I also don’t want to wait until 2016 to see a change of security in Toyota Park and Solider Field; stadiums I visits dozens of times a year. A change in security or an end to racial profiling by Monterrey Security is needed now; 2016 is again much too late.

The issues of racism and brutality have plagued Chicago for far too long.

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