The events that night in the parking lot changed me forever.
I used to look at things as so much more 'black and white.'
'The police were good' I thought.
And 'our government existed to serve and protect the people.'
There was a certain bliss in living with that ignorance.
One night shattered that and life itself would never be so simple again.
I knew that anyone could go bad.
I'd seen that before.
But the systematic coverup I was witness to...
that whacked my reality big time.
Since then I've made quite a few friends who happen to be cops.
I'd say that in my experience about half of them are an honor to the badge.
The other half...
you'd be shocked that they're nothing but another street gang bunch of thugs...
only they hide behind those badges and blue uniforms.
And they're authorized by the state to carry guns and use deadly force.
I don't think anything's ever offended me so much as seeing that bullshit up close.
It was like some fog was lifted and I saw what went on 'behind the curtain.'
That shit really shook me up.
I'm talking about people who've not only got no problem murdering someone...
but they've got the understanding and the means to get away with it.
There's more than a few people in prison who've been sent there wrongly convicted of crimes these guys have done.
They know how to pull it off.
The only thing that they really fear are the half of the cops who wouldn't tolerate that stuff.
The problem is that in some departments the ratio's pretty skewed.
The whole place is filled with bad apples.
The stories I started to hear were unbelievable.
Lying on police reports.
Giving false testimony.
And of course...
firebombing the garbage dumpster in front of my office.
I saw that one with my own eyes.
Or that phone call I got about the Police Commisioner's federal conviction for selling a couple of kilos of the white stuff.
The same guy that owned the bar that installed the illegal poker machines.
The ones that were all gone when the county went to raid his place because Iron Fist supposedly got tipped off and told him he'd better get rid of those things fast.
And I heard Iron Fist was pissed.
Not because his Police Commissioner had an illegal gambling operation going on in his town...
but because he'd kept it a secret from him.
Iron Fist kept secrets.
You didn't keep secrets from him.
There's some dark shadows on the other side of that 'thin blue line' and I'm telling you that I hope you never see them.
They get away with way too much.
They get away with murder.
The corruption is so endemic to the system that I have no faith at all that it can ever be eliminated.
There's a secret code.
If you've ever gotten a ticket and the cop thought you were an asshole all he had to do was to make sure that when he stapled your drivers lisense to the paperwork was that he put the staple through your picture.
The next cop that pulled you over knew right away that some other cop had a problem with you.
Because you had staple holes there on your license.
On your face.
That's the kind of shit that they do.
That's the 'code.'
One thing that they do better than anything though is to stick together.
'Professional courtesy' they call it.
In Chicago givin' another cop a ticket for DUI is an instant career dead end.
The older cops with more experience know how it works.
The young guys get sucked into it in order to prove themselves.
And to survive.
You gotta tow the line if you want backup to help you out in a timely manner when you call for it.
It's almost a rite of passage.
You don't pass the test...
you're gonna get your ass kicked on the streets or worse...
and no one's gonna drive really fast to help you out.
You'll be on your own.
Over the years the cops have developed an 'us or them' mentality.
They become jaded about the way it all works...
they socialize amongst themselves and the women who they call 'holster sniffers.'
They start to hate the legal system...
the judges and the prosecutors...
and then all of the sudden they're one of the 'bad apples.'
You hear about them every once in a while...
either they're busted by the feds or they're turned on by the guys around them because they pissed someone off.
You got no idea how bad it is really.
Not until you start hearin' what's going on 'off the record.'
You'll never sleep as well as you did before you heard the stories.
What makes it all worse is when corrupt politicians start to use the police as a 'personal army.'
That only makes everything dirtier.
The cops know that they're gonna get away with so much more when the guys above them are corrupt too.
That's the way it went in Deadwood.
Iron Fist used the police like they were his own little militia.
If he had a problem with you then you had yourself a problem with the cops.
And keepin' Iron Fist happy took precedence over 'law and order' any day of the week in Deadwood.
You got old Iron Fist pissed off at you that'd be a real quick end to your career in 'law enforcement.'
While Iron Fist ran the place the town was known as a really desirable place to live.
You didn't put a 'for sale' sign in front of your house if you wanted to sell it when he was in charge.
The old man would never tolerate that.
He had a list of people who wanted to live there and him and his cronies would figure out who they were gonna let buy your house.
They didn't want any 'undesirables' moving in.
And by 'undesirables' I mean black people.
Iron Fist thought that 'for sale' signs on people's homes made him look bad.
Dude should have been a cult leader the way he operated.
If you went around 'the system'...
and some people did because they felt that Iron Fist's little policy was cutting their profits on the sale of their homes...
Iron Fist would send the cops out late at night and snatch that 'for sale' sign right out of your front yard.
The guys I talked to said 'Secret Squirrel' was always up for the job.
He was the guy that drove around with the trunk full of machine guns.
The Village was sued in federal court for the practice by real estate agents and the Village lost on First Ammendment grounds...
but they still kept doing it.
Iron Fist reduced the police to commonon thievery.
For a lot of them I think that was the line that they'd first crossed into the corruption that soiled the place.
Kind of like a little 'initiation' into the way things were done in Deadwood.
They wanted to make damn sure no 'undesirables' were ever hired on to the police department too.
They asked applicants to provide a picture of themselves with their applications.
You better not have a dark complection if you wanted to get a job there.
The thing that really made everything so corrupt was that the Chief would always end up with a big old bag of dirt on Iron Fist...
just as much as Iron Fist'd end up with a big old bag of dirt on the Chief.
The relationships never seemed to last too long because Iron Fist knew the game better than any of the clowns he'd make Chief.
He'd take 'em down before they really became a threat.
When Skeevy left there to run another department it wasn't too long before the feds were all over his ass.
It was Skeevy who'd installed the guy that'd become the next Chief...
The one I sent the 'nutcracker' letter to.
Where I told him 'I was gonna squeeze his balls until they popped.'
The letter I had to read in front of the jury with all the good stuff blacked out.
Man I really thought I was gonna be charged with some serious felonies for that action.
Even my lawyer said he was worried about it.
'You don't go around writing that kind of stuff down' he said 'say whatever you want but you don't write letters like that and send them to the Chief of Police signed with your name.'
Fortunately the statute of limitations has run out on that one and I ain't got no problems that way.
I really tortured poor Chief Hotdog...
got inside his head and fucked with him big time.
The way I saw it he deserved it.
I mean... he was the boss... and he coudda done something to make things right for me and my family.
He was given the chance to do the right thing.
They all were.
But when he came out lying to the media about what happened that night and defended the actions of his street thug cops I knew I was goin' after his ass any way I could.
Right after the case against my wife was thrown out Chief Hotdog resigned.
Of course The Kid said it had nothin' to do with the bungling of that case...
and insiders said it was because he didn't do really well at fundraising for The Kid politically...
but I didn't care.
He was just one more corrupt motherfucker that I had in my crosshairs that went down in flames.
Whatever it was it ended his career.
The department went without a Chief for a few months and everyone speculated on who was gonna be named Chief Hotdog's successor.
I was shakin' the place up with allegations about the use of the contaminated well but that was all kinda behind the scenes...
the media or the feds hadn't picked up on it just yet.
When The Kid appointed the new Chief, me and The Mole both let out a collective gasp at the same time.
He appointed a woman who used to run the water department.
I couldn't believe it.
It was such an obvious payoff and anyone in the know could see that right away.
It was blatant.
The Kid wasn't just 'ball-less' he seemed to be brainless too.
That was the first time I knew I really had those assholes and I knew I had them good.
They knew the feds were comin' sooner or later because I wasn't letting up and appointing Stewbauer as the new Chief of Police was a sort of premptory strike.
They wanted to keep her quiet and they wanted to keep her loyal...
put her on the 'short leash.'
I think she was scared shitless about what was comin' down the line and thinkin' about makin' a deal herself with the federales.
The Kid appointing her as the new Chief was probably a confidence builder for the woman.
She was working part time as a detective for the department before she was appointed Chief and I'd heard she wasn't a bad cop.
But she knew the truth about the use of the contaminated well and I knew that in appointing her that The Kid was hoping she'd never tell that truth to anyone.
Especially the feds.
I heard that her husband was a convicted drug dealer who was sitting in prison at the time she was appointed as the new Chief too.
She couldn't have been a very good detective if she didn't know that the old man was dealin' drugs out of her house.
Or she was a very corrupt detective.
Take your pick.
She was working as the Chief of Police in Deadwood when she was indicted on something like twenty three felony counts by the US Attorney.
She had to surrender her gun and her firearm owners identification card to the feds right after that.
Deadwood gave her a paid 'leave of absence' so now she gets paid for doing nothing.
Except takin' a fall for Iron Fist and his crew and keeping some serious secrets.
Of course they're paying her legal bills too.
I can't believe they get away with that shit but they do.
If I was a reporter I'd tear 'em a new one over that story.
I guess that made her the second Chief of Police that I'd end up takin' down in a row over this whole thing.
The Mole once pointed out that 'fucking with you doesn't seem to be a really good career move.'
We shared a good laugh over that one.
I was makin' enemies there almost as fast as I'm known to make friends.
And I was using the enemies of my enemy pretty effectively too.
That's why I'd reached out to Congressman Bobby Rush.
Krista'd made the introduction.
I'd read that when Rush was first elected to Congress that Iron Fist was pretty pissed off that now a black man would be representing Deadwood in Congress.
He was quoted in the newspapers saying that he wanted to secceed from the congressional district because 'there was no way that that man could represent the white ethnics of Deadwood.'
That comment really pissed off Congressman Rush and I don't think he ever forgot it.
Or forgave it.
I remember thinking 'this guy will really be a help in nailing Iron Fist to the cross' and I was right.
Congressman Rush and I are not the kind of guys who you'd ever accuse of seeing 'eye to eye' politically but we had a common enemy in Iron Fist and that's all it takes in Illinois politics... or politics in general to gain a strong ally.
I remember the Congressman pulling me out of a big meeting saying that he wanted me to get in front of the cameras with him and talk to the press.
Right after he'd given the best political speech I've ever had the great pleasure to witness.
I'm telling you I swear he channeled the spirit of a baptist preacher from the deep south of the seventies on that one.
I think the Congressman wanted Iron Fist to see him with his arm around me there smiling.
Kinda like twisting the knife if you know what I mean.
I also remember the Fox News reporter with that tight sweater and the most amazing pair of tits I'd ever seen...
I thought it was pretty funny that I'm standing next to a Congressman with about a half a dozen tv cameras in my face blowin' the lid on Iron Fist and his dirty and despicable deeds and I can't take my eyes off of this woman's rack.
I'm usually not like that...
but damn... the combination of that sweater and her upper body were a work of freakin' art...
a thing of incredible beauty.
That moment was the closest I'd ever come to feeling a woman up on live tv.
I'm glad the Congressman did most of the talking.
When I watched myself on tv that night I looked like a really honest guy lookin' right into the camera like that.
Only me and God knew where I was really looking though.
And I blame the whole thing on God anyway.
That was not the work of some plastic surgeon...
and if it was, then it was God that gave him that talent...
so I still blame God and I think he'd be honored that I do.
I felt like dirt for thinkin' that way there though.
Iron Fist and his shenanigans killed people.
Innocent people that had no idea that they were drinking that cancer water.
There were so many people with cancer there at that meeting.
I shook their hands and I hugged them.
I looked into their eyes and I listened to their stories.
And it all got me even more pissed off at what those assholes did.
Yeah... there was a certain selfish satisfaction in the imminent crucifiction of the people who'd hurt my family...
but more and more I was beginning to find myself taking up the crusade to bring these guys to justice not just for what they'd done to me and my family...
but for what they'd done to the people that trusted them.
They had to pay for what they'd done and it seemed like I was the only one with the balls and the motivation and the understanding of the situation to keep driving them towards justice.
And now I had some powerful people on my side.
Rush had called Eric Holder, the US Attorney General from the meeting and told him what was going on.
Shit was getting stirred up alright.
I was excited.
I'd seen enough in that parking lot and in the days after to know that they were soul-less and corrupt and I wanted to show everyone that.
I wanted revenge ever since that night.
There was a battle going on inside of my soul by this time.
And I found myself slowly letting the whole concept of revenge go.
More than anything...
I really wanted justice.
And I wanted it for the frail thirty eight year old woman I'd just hugged who had cancer all over her body and was sick right there from all of the chemo...
I wanted justice for her.
They had no right to do that to another human being.
Iron Fist and his whole crew hadda go down for this.
From the series 'There's Something in the Water' here on Flickr... www.flickr.com/photos/light_seeker/sets/72157627041317913...