(CHICAGO) — Mere hours after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel apologized for the city’s handling of the Laquan McDonald case and urged for reform and change, hundreds of protesters took to the city’s downtown area to call for the mayor to resign.
Chanting “Rahm Emanuel has got to go” and carrying signs against the embattled mayor, the Chicago Police Department and other city officials, protesters marched around Chicago City Hall and on some of the city’s busiest streets, halting traffic.
A wall of several dozen officers at one point blocked protesters from entering South Michigan Avenue, one of the city’s main roads, but later let protesters move forward. Squad cars and police SUVs were stationed on streets in the city’s downtown district, where many office buildings and shops are located.
Several protesters staged a brief sit-in as a form of civil disobedience on Michigan Avenue before they continued to walk south on the street, blocking traffic in one of the city’s main roads.
This is the latest in a series of protests that have rocked the city since dash cam video appearing to show police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald was released last month. Several groups rallied in the city’s main shopping district on Black Friday angry at how the city had handled the McDonald case.
Van Dyke is currently out on bail after he was charged with first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
At least three protests had been scheduled for Wednesday as Emanuel addressed the Chicago City Council in the morning in a special meeting called to discuss police misconduct and the measures the city is now taking to curb the problem. One of them was called “Shut Down City Council.”
In his morning address, Emanuel said the city’s facing a “defining moment on the issue of crime and policing, and even the larger issue of truth, justice and race.”
The city and several of its officials have been engulfed in controversy since a video of McDonald’s shooting. Emanuel is not the only one dismissing calls for resignation. Activists and local elected officials have called for the Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to step down.
“We cannot have effective policing if we turn a blind eye to police misconduct,” Emanuel said, adding “nothing can excuse” what happened to McDonald. “Respect must be earned. Respect is a two-way street.”
The delay in releasing the video of McDonald’s shooting and the 400 days that Alvarez took to file charges against Van Dyke have been some of the main factors that have put the city in turmoil.
Emanuel called on city officials to have a “painful but honest reckoning of what went wrong … over decades.”
The mayor’s address comes days after his police superintendent stepped down, two more controversial videos involving police were made public and a Department of Justice Investigation was announced.
In a news conference Wednesday afternoon as protesters surrounded City Hall, he again took blame for the system that “allowed” police misconduct to go unheeded and promised reform in police accountability, including the city’s practice of not releasing videos of police-involved incidents until after investigations reach a certain point.
“We can either be defined by what we have failed to do or what we need to do,” the mayor said, telling the alderman that “nothing can excuse” what happened to McDonald.
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