Daily archives: July 2nd, 2008

One of the Good Guys was Shot Today

Officer Richard FrancisOfficer Richard Francis left us today. A 60-year-old Vietnam War combat veteran, the first Chicago police officer shot to death in the line of duty since 2002, Francis died today as he struggled with a mentally ill woman who grabbed his gun and shot him in the head.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Francis, a 27-year police veteran, was alone on patrol in a squad car when a CTA bus driver flagged him down.

The CTA driver was worried about a woman at a bus stop who became verbally abusive when the eastbound bus stopped on Belmont to let passengers out.

The driver did not open the doors and honked the horn to flag down Francis, who stopped to help, Belmont District Cmdr. John Kenny said.

The woman struggled with Francis and grabbed his revolver, shooting him once. She was shot after threatening the officers who responded to Francis’ call for backup, police said.

“Police said.” The journalist’s disclaimer that everything is alleged at this point.

And it is.

The only thing that is not alleged today is that Officer Richard Francis, 60, is dead.

Mayor Daley said Francis’ death is a “sad reminder of how much gratitude we owe to the men and women of the Chicago Police Department.”

Amen, Mayor. Amen.

“It’s a tragic loss for his family. It’s a terrible loss for the Chicago Police Department,” police Supt. Jody Weis said outside the hospital. “It’s a stark reminder of what the dangers that the officers of this department face every day.”

And “Amen” again.

Again from the Sun-Times:

“I don’t think he would ever quit,” said a lifelong friend, Tom Casey. “They’d have to force him off.”


“Before he was married, he would volunteer to take holidays so the cops with families could take time off,” Casey said. “That’s the type of guy he was.”

And again from friend, Tom Casey:

Francis preferred to work at night, when there was more action, Casey said. He started in the East Chicago District where Cabrini-Green is located.

“It was a rough neighborhood, but he liked it,” Casey said.

Francis married his wife, Deborah, about 10 years ago, Casey said.

“The children weren’t biologically his, but he raised them,” said Barbara Rehn, who lives across the street. “He called them his ‘kids’ and they called him ‘dad.’ ”

From Susan Fracek:

“I have two siblings who are Chicago Police officers,” said Susan Fracek, who lives near Francis’ home. “It’s incredibly hard.”

“He was a wonderful guy,” she said.

“It was hard to believe he was a cop,” added Casey. “His demeanor was so calm and polite and funny. Knowing this guy, he was probably trying to help this woman.”

They seem so cold sometimes, the police. We slow down when we see them driving near us, watch carefully in the rear view mirror if they’re following us.

But they’re human. All of them.

Today, one of them breathed his last.

And he’s gone forever.

One of the good guys was shot today.

He died.

And we are less for it.

ACTION ALERT: Correspondent Mohammed Omer Hospitalized

The following is an action alert from Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches.  eNews Park Forest carries Jamail’s articles regularly:

Washington Report Correspondent Mohammed Omer Hospitalized Following Detention by Israeli Soldiers at Allenby Bridge Crossing

Mohammed Omer

Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, Gaza correspondent for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and co-recipient of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was
hospitalized with cracked ribs and other injuries inflicted by Israeli soldiers at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan into the occupied West Bank.

Omer was returning home to Gaza after a European speaking tour and the June 16 London ceremony at which he accepted the prestigious Gellhorn Prize.

Dutch MP Hans Van Baalen, head of the parliament’s foreign relations committee, and award-winning journalist John Pilger spent weeks lobbying Israel to issue an exit permit for the 24-year-old journalist. As has been the case before, diplomatic intervention was necessary to
secure permission for his return as well. Nevertheless, Israeli authorities initially refused to allow Omer to return to his home in Rafah from Amman. Finally—after missing his brother’s wedding—he was told that arrangements had been made for him to cross the border on
Thursday, June 26. Dutch diplomats awaited him on the other side to escort him to the Gaza Strip.
Dahr Jamail and Mohammed Omer

Instead of being granted free passage, however, Omer was detained, questioned by a Shin Bet agent, strip searched at gunpoint, assaulted and dragged by the heels to an ambulance after he began vomiting and going in and out of consciousness. When he finally came to, he was in a Palestinian hospital in Jericho, where he was treated and allowed to return home in the custody of the Dutch diplomats. See the following article by John Pilger in the July 2 Guardian:

The following afternoon, speaking from home, a recovering but still traumatized Omer told theWashington Report that he was having difficulty breathing and swallowing. The next day, suffering from cracked ribs and other injuries, he was admitted to a hospital in Gaza, where he remains as of this writing.

In his article in the August 2008 Washington Report, “A Voice for the Voiceless,” Omer defines his life’s mission as “to get the truth out,” and describes himself as “not pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli, but simply…an eyewitness on the ground, reporting what happens and why.”

One of the Shin Bet agents who interrogated him at the Allenby crossing advised Omer not to return to Gaza, where—thanks to the Israeli siege—there is no electricity, potable water, medical supplies, gasoline or other necessities of life. Clearly Israel wants to silence Mohammed Omer’s voice, as it has silenced the voices of other journalists—most recently Omer’s colleague Fadel Shana, the 24-year-old Reuters cameraman killed by an Israeli tank shell on April 16.

Palestinian journalists risk their lives on a daily basis to tell the world what is happening in their homeland. Their words and pictures remind us that we have yet to realize the vow, “Never again!”

Petition ButtonPlease click on the button at right or visit the Washington Report website, www.wrmea.com, to sign a petition condemning Israel’s attacks on journalists, both Palestinian and international. Add your voice to Mohammed Omer’s on behalf of voiceless Gazans and all Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation—an occupation made possible by American tax dollars.

I’m happy to point you to this petition.  Dahr Jamail is doing incredible work reporting as an unembedded journalist in Iraq.