Mayor Rahm Emanuel has dismissed Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. The move comes one week after the Nov. 24 court-ordered release of video footage showing Laquan McDonald, 17, being shot 16 times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
Emanuel made the move Tuesday morning, noting that it’s “an undeniable fact” that public trust in the department had eroded during McCarthy’s four years at the helm of the department.
“Now is the time for fresh eyes and new leadership,” Emanuel said, after noting that he formally asked for McCarthy’s resignation Tuesday morning. Emanuel said McCarthy “has become an issue rather than dealing with the issue, and a distraction.”
John Escalante, McCarthy’s first deputy, will serve as interim police superintendent.
The dismissal is an about-face for Emanuel, who in the days since the video release, had expressed confidence in his top cop.
But the calls for not only McCarthy’s ouster, but for the resignation of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and even the mayor himself only grew — particularly among the city’s African American population.
The chorus of disappointment then reverberated beyond the black activists, clergymen and elected officials, culminating in a Nov. 1 article by the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board calling for McCarthy’s ouster.
The editorial referenced McCarthy’s press office’s inaccurate description of McDonald’s behavior in the moments before he was killed last October, in addition to McCarthy’s handling of Officer Dante Servin, who shot into a crowd and killed 22-year-old Rekia Boyd while off-duty in 2012, as reasons for why he should go. The editorial also pin blamed on Mayor Emanuel and Alvarez for their inability to hold abusive police officers accountable.
Residents who live on the West and South Sides, in addition to black activists and elected officials, however, have been calling for McCarthy’s ouster since at least last summer.
When seven-year-old Humboldt Park resident Amari Brown was murdered last July, McCarthy said that the shooters had been targeting Brown’s father, Antonio Brown, who had been out on bond for a prior offense.
McCarthy said if Brown had been locked up, his son would’ve been alive — an assertion that offended many people who live in the area.
“That’s not something that our people feel [McCarthy] knows given the fact he doesn’t have anybody in custody. We take offense that he used one situation to justify another,” said Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) at the time.
“Superintendent McCarthy needs to be fired,” said activist Tio Hardiman, a statement that was met with cheers when it was said during Brown’s July vigil.
In October, the City Council’s Black Caucus began calling for McCarthy’s ouster. They cited McCarthy’s handling of his listening tours last summer, his policy of rotating district commanders and his treatment of black aldermen as reasons for his dismissal.
“You’ve been extremely disrespectful to every member in this body,” said Ald. Anthony Beal (9th) in October.
“Not once did you come and walk in our community,” Beal said. “Not once have you called the aldermen and said, ‘How can I partner with you?’ Not once have you taken my phone call. We had a great commander and you moved him to another district. I called to ask why my commander was moved to another district at the expense of the community — you still [have not called back].”