One down, two to go

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Garry McCarthy, Anita Alvarez, Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Who is next to go after McCarthy?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a rare moment of submissiveness bent to the will of the people and fired police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Dec. 1. Saying although he still believed in McCarthy, he recognized McCarthy had lost the trust of the public. The Mayor named John Escalante to the post on an interim basis. But the removal of McCarthy not only failed to quell the calls for the Mayor’s own removal from office, it intensified it.

“Simply put, the Mayor’s handpicked task force will not solve the problem because the Mayor himself is the problem,” read a statement from Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (D-1st). “The Mayor cannot investigate himself. That is why an independent federal investigation is required, and not just into Laquan McDonald’s murder, but into the process by which that murder was covered up. The dismissal of Superintendent McCarthy is a necessary but insufficient first step. Without systemic reforms, the divide between law enforcement and communities will not be healed.”

Other local political and community voices echoed calls for the Mayor’s removal along with Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. A coalition of Latino politicians asked for Alvarez’s resignation on Nov. 30, led by former mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Also asking her fellow county elected official to resign from her office was Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. She said the way the McDonald case and other daily cases are handled by the office of Alvarez is “disgraceful.”

“I’ve had no confidence in (Alvarez’s) leadership for a very long time,” Preckwinkle said. “I think the way she has run the office is disgraceful.”

Kim Foxx, former chief of staff for Preckwinkle, is running against Alvarez in the upcoming Democratic primary in March. Foxx’s candidacy is being pushed by many in the Black community. She has vowed to make major changes to the office if she is elected and renewed calls for a special prosecutor to be appointed to look into the office.

“It is clear that the grassroots public outcry of the past several days, and the tireless organizing of reform advocates over many years, have had a significant impact on the decision to replace Supt. McCarthy,” Foxx said. “It would be wrong, however, to assume that this move alone will satisfy those of us who believe an egregious miscarriage of justice has occurred here. There must still be a full investigation of anyone in the Chicago Police Department, the State’s Attorney Office and even City Hall to determine whether it was an inappropriate effort to conceal the truth, or simply mismanagement, that led to it taking 400 days to bring charges in this case.”

Civic groups like the NAACP and Chicago Urban League (CUL) also supported the firing of McCarthy. The CUL believes that more changes need to be made but is also focusing on changing the system that led to the debacle of the McDonald case.

“McCarthy’s resignation provides more evidence that the Afri- can-American community, and those who care about it, must work together to bring significant changes in how justice is administered in our community,” said Chicago Urban League Interim President Shari Runner. “CUL continues to believe that outside organizations must be involved in any plan to reorganize the way CPD conducts business.”

Large unions like the SEIU and Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) also praised the move to remove McCarthy. The CTU released a statement which read the union is against police corruption and crime. The union is calling for “significant reform” of the department. While the CTU is currently focused on getting an elected school board, it believes the time may have come for there to be an elected police board as well.

“We are negotiating for restorative justice programs in our schools and for an end to the school to prison pipeline,” CTU said.

State Sen. Kwame Raoul believes it will take a lot of time and hard work before the Black community can trust the police department again. He said too often the victims of police shootings in Chicago are young Black men. Raoul added the Independent Police Review Authority also needs to be questioned with how they operate seeing that the organization that is supposed to review all police shootings ruled the McDonald shooting as justifiable.

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