Community leaders, demonstrators react to McCarthy resignation

CHICAGO (WLS) -- City, community and faith leaders in Chicago reacted to the announcement of Chicago police Supt. Garry McCarthy's resignation with tentative hope, but said it should be the first step in the long process of systemic reform.

"The voice of the people has been heard, and I think that all the protests and demonstrations we've been conducting and holding, peacefully, for these past couple of years it, today, has paid off," said activists William Calloway.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he has asked for McCarthy's resignation in a Tuesday morning news conference, saying this "is not the end of the problem, but is the beginning of the solution to the problem." He said McCarthy had lost the trust of the people of Chicago.

Aldermen, members of the clergy and organizations including the Chicago Teacher's Union said McCarthy's resignation was the first step in the right direction. Most also said they were not surprised.

"I think it's been mounting day by day," said Father Michael Pfleger. "I think the question being that the trust is not going to come back to the police department just by removing Supt. McCarthy. The police department needs and overhaul. The culture of the police department needs to be changed and transformed from the street level all the way up to 35th Street, so we've gotta demand deeper issues are being dealt with or else we're just going through a revolving door."

"This was a battle, but there is a bigger war," said Jedidiah Brown of the Young Leaders Alliance. "The police culture has to change. Anita Alvarez still needs to be removed from office. We need to know why the [Fraternal Order of Police] operates the way they have and then how in the world did IPRA call this a justified shooting."

Rev. Ira Acree repeated the call for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to step down. If she does not, he is counting on voters.

"We need to hold Anita Alvarez accountable, but if she does not resign in three or four months, we can take her out by voting her out," he said. "We may need to take her out in the polls if she does not have the integrity to resign."

Acree also said outside investigators are needed to restore morale within police ranks.

"Right now we have so many good police officers who lay their lives on the line every day, and they have lost morale because we have allowed a poor culture to demoralize them," he said. "We need to restore it right away, and we need all hands on deck, and we just need the feds to help us clean out this house."

State Senator Kwame Raoul calls accountability a systemic issue.

"You know, I don't know that the problem is the superintendent as much as it is more of a systemic problem within the law enforcement process in the city of Chicago. And so I think as we've seen outside eyes come into Ferguson, into Cleveland, I think we need those same outside eyes to come into Chicago and see what we need to do systemically, beyond removing an individual, to make change. Because if we think that simply with the removal of this superintendent and replacement with another the problem is solved, we're fooling ourselves. I think we need more than the replacement of the superintendent," Raoul said.

Pastor Cy Fields of the New Landmark Baptist Church agrees. His community advocacy group, the Community Renewal Society is comprised of faith leaders in Chicago. They want an independent auditor to oversee the department.

"If there was an independent auditor, Van Dyke would not have been on the force," Pastor Fields said. "Someone would have looked at his disciplinary record and something could have happened. He would have not been on the street."

Fields believes an independent auditor would be able to reform the department and better serve the city of Chicago. He and other have been protesting at City Hall on Tuesday.

"We can't have this," he said. "There must be systemic change and there must be reform, so we will make this demand of him as mayor and also of our city aldermen, they must stand up. Because we haven't forgotten they signed that $5 million check as well, so they have to be accountable as well."

VIDEO: Demonstrators celebrate McCarthy's ouster

Demonstrators danced outside CPD headquarters on Tuesday night as they celebrated the firing of the city's top cop. But they said it's only a start.

"It doesn't change the corrupt system that exists within CPD. It doesn't change the corrupt system that's existed in Chicago for over a century!" said Rachel Williams.

While the dash cam footage of the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald sparked the latest protests against police, Rahm Emanuel's firing of the police superintendent emboldened their movement.

"It's an awakening," said Mike Elliott, who has been protesting police conduct for four decades.

"Anita Alvarez and Rahm Emanuel have to go, they have to go. We want the establishment of an all-elected civilian police accountability council," said Mike Siviwe Elliot, Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

The other group under fire are the Chicago aldermen who approved a settlement, apparently without seeing the video or understanding its implications.

City Council records show the $5 million settlement was introduced in committee on April 13th and approved by the entire Council 2 days later on a simple voice vote.

"There were omissions and inaccuracies that we should've been made aware of," said Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 6th Ward.

Laquan McDonald's aunt briefly attended the demonstration on Tuesday night, but declined to comment. Her supporters said it took more than 400 days to take notice of Laquan's death.

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