Heads have begun to roll in Chicago after public outcry over suppression of a deadly police shooting caught on tape, but critics of the city's notorious criminal justice system say they won't be satisfied until Mayor Rahm Emanuel himself resigns.
"It's not enough to fire the police chief," said RootsAction.org co-founder Norman Solomon, noting that more than 10,000 people have now signed a petition calling for Emanuel's ouster. "The buck stops with the mayor, and he should resign."
"Mayor Emanuel, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, and all top elected officials involved in the cover-up surrounding the execution of Laquan McDonald must make the right decision and resign immediately."
—Black Youth Project 100
At a press conference on Tuesday, Emanuel announced that police Superintendent Garry McCarthy had been fired and that a new Task Force on Police Accountability had been created. He brushed off questions from journalists who asked whether his own resignation was warranted or forthcoming.
He said it was an "undeniable fact" that the public's trust in law enforcement has been eroded, most recently over the handling of the October 2014 shooting, by a white officer, of black teenager Laquan McDonald.
Emanuel was among the city officials who fought for more than a year to keep dash-cam video of the shooting under wraps. A court forced the release of the footage, which shows Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times, in November.
In a statement responding to Tuesday's news, the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) said McCarthy's dismissal "comes as a result of massive community organizing and direct confrontations between young Black organizers and the Chicago Police Department to expose the ongoing structural abuses of power Black people are subjected to everyday."
But accountability must go further, the group continued. "Now, Mayor Emanuel, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, and all top elected officials involved in the cover-up surrounding the execution of Laquan McDonald must make the right decision and resign immediately," BYP100 declared. "They have demonstrated a deep ineptitude to exercise compassion and good judgment as leaders and should not be trusted to make decisions that impact our lives."
In a searing op-ed published Tuesday, former University of Chicago professor Bernard Harcourt lambasted the fact that city leaders—including Emanuel, who was fighting for re-election in a tight race at the time of the shooting—"did everything in their power to keep the homicide from the public as long as possible."
In doing so, Harcourt said, they "impeded the criminal justice system" and "allowed a first-degree murder suspect... to remain free for over a year on the city's payroll."
"Rather than hold hearings, investigate and perhaps prosecute its leaders, the city of Chicago needs to restore trust," Harcourt concluded. "These officials no longer have the public's confidence. They should resign."
In a piece on Monday that predicted McCarthy would be "thrown under the bus," the Chicago Monitor's Bill Chambers noted that "[n]either Chicago nor Illinois law allows for the recall or impeachment of a politician. The people of Chicago will have to force Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign."
"There are many reasons" why that should happen, Chambers continued, before rattling off just a few: "There was his closing of five mental health clinics in minority neighborhoods in 2012; the fifty public schools in black and Latino areas his hand picked Chicago Public Schools Board closed in 2013; and the indictment of his chosen CPS CEO Barbara Bryd-Bennett for corruption earlier this year. So much more could be added to this list."
"But the Mayor’s presiding over and covering up the disappearance of 7,000 police suspects as well as the execution of Laquan McDonald in the street by Patrolman Jason Van Dyke should be enough to demand #ResignRahm," Chambers concluded, referencing an increasingly popular hashtag on Twitter.