CHICAGO (CBS) — Protesters who have been calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign ever since video of the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was made public were not moved by the mayor’s apology Wednesday in a speech to the City Council.
Activists who have been protesting the McDonald shooting and other examples of alleged police misconduct clearly were not impressed with the mayor’s speech, in which he took responsibility for the McDonald shooting, and how the prolonged investigation and the city’s efforts to keep the video under wraps undermined public trust.
“I am the mayor. As I said the other day, I own it. I take responsibility for what happened, because it happened on my watch, and if we’re going to fix it, I want you to understand it’s my responsibility with you, but if we’re also going to begin the healing process, the first step is my step, and I’m sorry,” Emanuel said.
Several protesters stood just outside the City Council chamber as Emanuel was speaking, and at one point, a bit of chaos erupted as some protesters began shoving each other, before others stepped in to calm things down.
One local minister said he’s not convinced the mayor will bring any real change to the Chicago Police Department.
“We just witnessed the mayor basically put a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound,” said Bishop James Dukes, pastor of Liberation Christian Center in Englewood. “I think it was politically driven. I think he had to give a distinctive apology, at least say he was sorry, but the intent that was involved in it, I don’t think is there.”
Later around noon, hundreds of protesters met at Daley Plaza and began marching though the Loop and down Michigan Avenue through the Gold Coast, blocking intersections and causing traffic backups. They continued to march north to State and North in Lincoln Park, where police lined up to block access to the park. The protesters then marched south and dispersed.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports the afternoon protests were mostly peaceful, but early on it could have taken a different turn.
At the very beginning, Lamon Reccord, one of the march organizers, brushed by a police commander. He was taken into custody and the crowd began to grow angry, but a promise to remain peaceful and a promise by police to let the protests continue saw his release. Rev. Quovadis Green was there for the conversation.
“Went into the wagon and was able to talk to the commander…and the commander saw how determined we were for him not to go to jail and so because of that the commander said he would let him go,” Rev. Green said. “The commander was very fair. He was more than fair.”
Protesters later gathered outside Chicago Police Headquarters at 35th and Michigan for a Police Board Meeting.
Among the protesters at City Hall was the family of Philip Coleman, an African-American man who died in police custody in 2012, after officers repeatedly stunned him with a Taser and dragged him out of a holding cell in handcuffs.
Coleman was being held at the Calumet District police station after suffering a mental breakdown and allegedly attacking his mother in December 2012. His family said he needed to go to a hospital, but officers told them “They don’t do hospitals. They do jails.”
Newly released video shows six officers entering Coleman’s cell, exchanging words with him, placing him in a chokehold, and then shocking him with a Taser, and dragging him out by his arms. Coleman died later at a hospital from a reaction to antipsychotic medication he was given, but an autopsy showed he had suffered dozens of bruises and scrapes all over his body.
Several black clergy members gathered at City Hall with Coleman’s family, saying his death was just one example of a pattern of police misconduct in Chicago.
“We’re not just going to go away. We are going to be very visible for a very long time. It’s been a long time coming; three years. That’s too long,” said. Coleman’s brother, Jeff.
Although the mayor’s office released a statement Monday night denouncing what happened to Coleman, family spokesman Tavis Grant said they have yet to hear from Emanuel about Coleman’s death.
“He’s still not made a personal call from his office, or from a representative even of the mayor, to apologize to the Coleman family,” Grant said.
Another group of protesters said they’re pushing for legislation in Springfield that would allow voters to recall the mayor.
“It has rendered a man whose legacy is going to be the Nixon of Chicago for his cover-ups, Rahm Emanuel, and it is just the most disgraceful and despicable thing,” said Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, with the Coalition For A New Chicago.
The group said it’s past time for the mayor to step down, and if he won’t, voters should be able to remove him from office.
“How many more deaths do we need on the streets? How many more of these cover-ups do we need? Rahmgate is real, and we need to investigate this,” Dr. Matt Harrington said.