Chicago Police Chief Reminds County Official: ‘The UN Has No Jurisdiction Here’

Patrick Goodenough | December 18, 2017 | 4:25am EST
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Cook County Board of Commissioners member Richard Boykin speaks to media at O’Hare International Airport on December 14, 2017. (Screengrab: YouTube)

( – Not for the first time, the United Nations is getting appeals from Chicago to step in and help deal with a crisis – this time, the Windy City’s staggering levels of violent crime.

One of the 17 individuals elected onto the Cook County board of commissioners, Democrat Richard Boykin, flew to New York City on Thursday for talks with a senior U.N. peacekeeping official, proposing that the world body deploy blue helmets in Chicago to deal with what he called “genocide.”

But Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, while giving a nod to Boykin’s “energy,” reminded the commissioner that the U.N. has no jurisdiction on U.S. soil.

“I appreciate the commissioner’s energy and his anxiousness to help reduce the gun violence in Chicago,” the Chicago Tribune quoted him as telling reporters on Friday. “I really do commend that, but at the end of the day the U.N. has no jurisdiction here. They really have no jurisdiction in this country.”

Johnson suggested that Boykin’s energy could be “better spent building bridges and relationships in the city, and with our local partners, state partners and federal partners here to address violence.”

Boykin said before flying out from O’Hare International Airport a day earlier that he was “hoping to appeal to the U.N. to actually come to Chicago and meet with victims of violence – and maybe even possibly help out in terms of peacekeeping efforts.”

He said Chicago’s leaders had failed to protect the community against violent crime, and suggested that the U.N. represented a “higher authority” than elected U.S. officials.

“If we can’t get it done here with the leaders of the city, the state, and the county working together to utilize their budgets to help protect these communities, then I have to appeal to a higher authority, a higher force.”

Ahead of his scheduled meeting with the U.N.’s assistant secretary-general for peacebuilding support, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco of Argentina, Boykin spoke of minority populations in Chicago “being decimated.”

“There is a quiet genocide taking place in too many of our communities,” he said. “Eighty percent of those who are being killed by gun violence are African-American, and often killed at the hands of another African-American.”

“So we must protect these population groups, and that’s what the United Nations does. They’re a peacekeeping force. They know all about keeping the peace, and so we’re hopeful that they’ll hear our appeal.”

Boykin said U.N. peacekeepers have “been able to help in places like Africa and abroad, where they’ve sent troops in and sent forces in to help protect minority and vulnerable populations, and so quite frankly I think the same can be said for here in Chicago.”

Last March U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres in an annual report said there had been 145 known cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by U.N. peacekeepers during 2016, involving 311 victims, mostly women and girls. The most common offense, in 62 cases, was child rape.

“We feel certain that not all cases are reported,” the report said.

U.N. peacekeepers watch over conflict zone in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2012. (UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti, File)

Looking to the UN

This isn’t the first time in recent years that supplicants from Chicago have turned their eyes to the U.N.

In 2013 the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights called on U.N. officials to investigate planned school closures, on that occasion appealing to U.N. human rights officials in Geneva, based on the argument that the closures would amount to human rights abuses.

The appeal was addressed to the three U.N. specialists – the mandate-holders for the “right to education,” “minority issues,” and “contemporary forms of racism.”

The Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, which comprises more than 50 groups in 2011 provided information to the U.N. Committee Against Torture on the alleged torture of African-American criminal suspects by members of the Chicago police department in the 1980s and 1990s.

In 2012 it filed submissions with a U.N. committee that oversees countries’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, relating to the treatment of prisoners including juveniles.

Beyond Chicago, in 2012 the NAACP appealed to the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate what it called “racially-discriminatory election laws” in the U.S., especially those affecting people with felony convictions.

When a NAACP delegation addressed the HRC in Geneva on these issues, those listening included diplomats from countries where citizens have no meaningful vote at all, such as Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia.

In 2013 Rainbow Push Coalition president Jesse Jackson called for the HRC to investigate the Trayvon Martin shooting, and to determine “whether the U.S. is upholding its obligations under international human rights laws and treaties.”

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