Photo by J. Coyden Palmer
Protests continue as efforts to recall mayor begins
As Mayor Rahm Emanuel was issuing an apology to the city inside the chambers of the City Council on December 9, hundreds of protestors jammed the hallways and streets around City Hall demanding the mayor resign. With the community fuming not just over the Laquan McDonald case, but the recent release of a video showing Chicago police officers tasering another Black man to death inside the 5th District, protesters of all races are demanding change.
“I’m proud of these young people as they are not turning the city upside down, but are showing their outrage towards the mayor and wanting change,” said Rev. Ira Acree, who was a participant in the demonstration and is a longtime community organizer. “We want input on the new police superintendent and a new Independent Police Review Authority.”
Out of 400 complaints against officers in the past few years, only four have been substantiated by IPRA. The head of that department resigned last week. Demonstrators are ready to clean out city and county government officials who they believe keep a culture of corruption and cover-ups going.
In addition to Emanuel, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and a large portion of the City Council’s Black Caucus are being targeted to be removed, specifically Aldermen Carrie Austin (34th), Will Burns (4th), Emma Mitts (37th), and Anthony Beale (9th).
While Emanuel was taking responsibility for the delay in the release of the tape that showed Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times, most people said it was too little, too late.
“I don’t need your whack apology a year later Rahm Emanuel,” said 17-year-old Jayson Singleton from the North Side. “He had a responsibility to tell us the truth from the start.”
Other protesters say an accumulation of police misconduct that goes back for decades is what pushed them over the top. Dennis Hendricks, a 57-year-old white male from Brighton Park, said he was joining the protesters because it is obvious there is a cultural problem where young Black men are being killed by police under suspicious circumstances.
“Part of the reason young Blacks have an image problem now is because of how the police deal with them. They never deal with young white male suspects in the same way, even if they are armed to the teeth,” Hendricks said. “If I was a young Black guy, I would be terrified of the police too.”
Outside the Council chambers, the protest at times was a bit raucous with pushing and taunting of police. Learning that there would be mass protests, city leaders took the step to limit access to the monthly Council meeting and directed those who were allowed inside to the mezzanine level, enclosed in Plexiglass, causing a logjam of protestors outside who became agitated after hearing the mayor’s 35-minute speech.
Police moved the demonstrators outside where their numbers swelled along Randolph Street. They march- ed throughout the downtown area until the evening hours, and a few people were detained by police, but released within minutes.
At Crusader press time, the de- monstrators were headed to protest outside the IPRA meeting. Their focus is to get the board to fire Det. Dante Servin, who killed innocent bystander Rekia Boyd during a warm spring evening in 2012.
The gun Servin used was unregistered. He was charged with second-degree murder, but in April, a Cook County judge dismissed the case against Servin during a bench trial stating Alvarez’s office charged him with the wrong crime.
Meanwhile, State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-8th) and State Rep. Mary Flowers (D-31st) have crafted a bill that will allow for Emanuel to be recalled. Speaking with the Crusader via telephone, Ford said he will be “proud” to be presenting a historic bill that the citizens have been calling for the last two weeks.
Ford believes it is a bill for the people and one that is long overdue. He said he was proud of the young protestors taking their concens to the streets demanding Emanuel resign and their spirit for change is in the bill.
“This bill is paramount. This is a moment we can’t let go by. This is a moment to prove all of the oppression that has been taking place in our city against our people for decades,” Ford said. “With the passage of this bill, which I hope will take place soon; we will have a tool to change our city for the better.”
The bill filed does have “home rule” and will require at least 71 “yes” votes in the State House and a supermajority vote in the Senate as well. In addition, it will require 90,000 petition signatures—roughly 15% of the registered voters in the last election—from Chicago residents and at least two Chicago aldermen to sign-off on it. There will also have to be one community organization willing to push the bill forward. Asked if she felt there would be enough votes in the House to pass the measure, Flowers sounded confident considering how many downstate lawmakers view Chicago.
“This bill…let me make it plain and clear, this is a bill for a mayor of the city of Chicago to be recalled, and I’m going to give a period right there,” she said with a laugh. “I’m very optimistic about it.”
Flowers said seeing the young protesters reminded her of the 60s when she protested for Civil Rights. She said the energy of the youth renewed her spirit for change as well. But, she was not totally surprised there was no process in place to remove a mayor because we’ve seen it in the past, most recently when Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka passed away unexpectedly. Her first experience with it came when former Mayor Harold Washington died.
“This is a process every elected office should have. Nobody is above the law,” stated Flowers. “If there is a process to get you in, then there should be a process to get you out.”