The Latest: Protesters rally for hours after mayor’s speech

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A look at challenges Chicago mayor faces beyond police abuse.

Protests that snaked through downtown Chicago streets for hours after Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s speech appear to have dispersed, though other demonstrations may take place in the evening hours. CHICAGO (AP) — With his police department and his own leadership under intense scrutiny, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered an emotional speech Wednesday calling for widespread change to rebuild trust between African-American residents and the police, as well as ending what he called the normalization of gun violence.

CHICAGO — The latest developments in the city of Chicago’s efforts to deal with fatal police shootings and police accountability (all times local): Emanuel spoke Wednesday before the City Council on the crisis facing police following the release of a video of Laquan McDonald’s 2014 shooting at the hands of police. Here’s a rundown on Emanuel’s address and the most recent developments with the Chicago Police Department, which will undergo a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Lawyers for Cedrick Chatman’s family allege the videos of his January 2013 killing contradict statements from police that Chatman had turned and pointed a dark object at police as he ran, prompting Officer Kevin Fry to fire in fear of his life. A look at some of the other issues that have confronted the nation’s third-largest city: Chicago has seen an increase in shootings and homicides this year over 2014. City attorneys argue releasing the footage — which they described as low-quality and incomplete — could inflame the public and jeopardize a fair trial.

The legislation would amend a 1941 law to create “a procedure for an election to recall the Mayor of Chicago,” and the bill proposes that change would be “effective immediately,” if passed by the legislature. Emanuel pushed through the largest tax increase in Chicago history to help close a budget deficit and address a pension system that’s the worst-funded of any major U.S. city. The skepticism of Emanuel’s promises extended to Chicago’s streets, where crowds of protesters marched and blocked traffic near City Hall at midday and demanded Emanuel’s resignation. “We have some serious questions if there’s ever going to be any trust again,” said the Rev. The new head of a body that investigates allegations of wrongdoing by Chicago police says she’s reopening the investigation of a black man who died in 2012 after officers used a stun gun on him and dragged him from a jail cell. A 2010 referendum does allow Illinois voters to recall a governor – that process includes voters and a request from multiple members of the legislature.

Gettleman’s ruling came three weeks after police dash-cam video of 17-year-old McDonald being shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke went viral, sparking protests and leading to the resignations of both police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Scott Ando, who headed the Independent Police Review Authority, which has drawn criticism for its lax enforcement on excessive-force complaints. Earlier this year, Lorenzo Davis, the IPRA supervisor who headed up the Chatman probe, filed a federal lawsuit alleging he was fired by Ando for concluding that officers in several shootings — including Chatman’s — were not justified in using lethal force.

The city released a video this week of officers, several of whom are black, using the stun gun, then dragging an apparently unconscious Coleman, who was black, away. Davis, who viewed the surveillance video as part of the IPRA inquiry, told the Tribune last month he did not see Chatman aim at or turn toward the officers. “Cedrick was just running as the shots were fired,” Davis said. “You’re taught that deadly force is a last resort and that you should do everything in your power to apprehend the person before you use deadly force.

And if we’re going to fix it, I want you to understand it’s my responsibility with you,” Emanuel said during a sometimes-emotional speech that lasted nearly 45 minutes. “But if we’re also going to begin the healing process, the first step in that journey is my step. Attorney’s Office already is examining statements made by other officers on the scene — reports that portrayed McDonald as more threatening than he appeared on the video.

Adding to the district’s woes was the indictment of Emanuel’s public schools CEO, who oversaw closings of about 50 schools — a decision that angered many residents. Davis’ attorney, Torreya Hamilton, who attended Wednesday’s hearing, told reporters she thinks the Chatman case “will expose what was happening in IPRA and the corruption of its leaders.” After the hearing, Brian Coffman, who represents Chatman’s mother, Linda, called on Emanuel to make good on his promises to be more transparent when it comes to officers accused of excessive force. “If Mr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty in October to helping steer $23 million in no-bid contracts to education firms for $2.3 million in kickbacks and bribes. The mayor has denied the claim and acknowledged Wednesday that he should have pressed for prosecutors to wrap up their investigation sooner so the video could be made public. Hours after the speech, protesters overflowed an intersection in front of City Hall, then marched through the financial district and blocked a major intersection for a short time as police directed traffic around them.

He also reversed course on whether the Justice Department should launch a civil-rights investigation, saying he would welcome it only after presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other top Democrats endorsed the idea. In news conferences, he has appeared worn down, fumbling answers to reporters’ questions or avoiding them entirely by walking away, with cameras rolling. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him grapple with anything quite like this,” said longtime ally and adviser David Axelrod, who also served with Emanuel in the Obama White House. There was a small bit of pushing and shoving with officers on Wednesday afternoon as the protesters tried to get to one of downtown’s main streets, but eventually police let them through.

The most likely effect of the crisis will come in the form of pushback from aldermen, who have long been considered a rubber stamp for the mayor’s initiatives, said political consultant Delmarie Cobb. The mayor won re-election in April by a healthy margin, but only after suffering the embarrassment of not getting a majority in a five-candidate February election, forcing the first mayoral runoff in decades. The dark object police recovered at the scene was a black iPhone box that authorities believe he obtained from the carjacking, according to IPRA, which ruled the officers’ actions justified. “The video shows Mr. Chatman running as fast as he possibly can away from these police officers,” Coffman said. “It’s a sunny day, not dark, he’s not carrying any kind of weapon and he makes no movements toward these police officers. … (Officer Fry) got out of his car and he was ready to shoot.

He added that the video was a “game-changer” in the community and helped people understand “the frustration of what we are dealing with.” Alderman Leslie Hairston, whose ward also encompasses parts of the South Side, including the University of Chicago, backed Emanuel’s comments about people being treated differently because of their skin color. She said she was “denied access” to the council’s chamber Wednesday until she produced ID “even though my picture was on the wall.” She said her white colleagues walked in without having to show ID. A review by the city’s quasi-independent police watchdog agency showed that of 409 shootings involving police since 2007, the agency found only two with credible allegations against an officer. “We have to be honest with ourselves about this issue.

Emanuel said that in addition to better community policing, Chicago must confront “underlying challenges of family, of poverty, of joblessness, or hopelessness.” The mayor was near tears when he recalled a question from a young man who had had run-ins with the law. He said gun violence has become “normalized” as the city grapples with gang violence and how to reform a police force with a decades-old reputation for brutality. Emanuel criticized the police department for being quick to shoot, saying the department’s “supervision and leadership” had failed. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato) At least four different groups are planning protests throughout the day in and around Chicago’s City Hall to draw attention to cases of alleged abuse by police officers.

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