McCarthy "Astounded" By Officers' Handling Of Protests; Not Resigning Over Laquan McDonald Case
CHICAGO (CBS) -- Police Supt. Garry McCarthy praised Chicago's police force Friday for showing "remarkable" professionalism during several days of protests in the wake of the release of a video showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black teen, and that officer being charged with murder.
And despite repeated calls from community activists, religious leaders, and even the City Council's Black Caucus that he resign over his handling of the McDonald case, McCarthy said he has no intention of stepping down.
Hundreds of protesters shut down part of Michigan Avenue on Friday, and blocked the entrances to several Magnificent Mile stores, in the third day of protests over the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder.
Friday's march came on the heels of two nights of protests downtown, and for the most part the demonstrations have been peaceful, with the exception of a few small scuffles.
McCarthy said he believes the protests have gone "exceptionally well" in large part because his officers have gone out of their way to let demonstrators express their outrage at police without any of the protests erupting into large clashes between protesters and police.
"You guys have filmed it. It's out there; people screaming in their faces, getting hit with spittle, in some cases throwing objects, and in one case actually very clearly assaulting a police officer and then getting cut loose from custody, which shouldn't have happened," he said.
The superintendent was referring to protest organizer Malcolm London, who was arrested Tuesday night and charged with felony aggravated battery for allegedly punching a police officer in the face during a protest march downtown. Prosecutors dropped the charge against London when he appeared for a bond hearing the next morning, even though police had said the punch was caught on video.
McCarthy said he does not know why the charge was dropped, but the Sun-Times reported prosecutors decided to dismiss the case "because we feel it is in the best interests of the City of Chicago."
McCarthy said he has been "astounded" by his department's handling of the protests.
"That's why we're not having problems that other cities are having, or have had in the past," McCarthy said before Friday's march. "We're going to facilitate the protests. We're trying to help them do what they want to do, quite frankly, and we're going to do it in a professional manner; but we will not allow criminal behavior, quite frankly. We're not going to stand by and watch something happen. We're not going to let windows get broken, and stand by idly watching it happen. We're not going to let places get looted. It's just not going to happen."
Many protesters have said McCarthy should resign or be fired, accusing him of mishandling the McDonald case. The City Council Black Caucus also has demanded McCarthy's ouster, and black aldermen have said they plan to call for a "no confidence" vote on the council floor.
For his part, McCarthy said he has no plans to step down, and is confident he has the full support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"I've never quit on anything in my life. I'm 56 years old. Don't expect that to change," he said. "The mayor has made it very clear that he has my back, and if people peel away the onion on what's happening right now in the policing world, you're going to find a police department that's doing an exceptional job, and quite frankly I'm not going to quit on the people of Chicago, and I'll never quit on these men and women."
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