On Wednesday, protests broke out in Chicago after mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed the city council to apologize for the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer in 2014. Angered by the seemingly botched investigation that took place following the shooting and other factors, protesters marched toward Michigan Avenue, one of Chicago's busiest streets, throughout the afternoon, calling for Emanuel's resignation. Even into the night, Chicago looked chaotic as protests continued, particularly around a Chicago police department board meeting.
Addressing the city council on Wednesday morning, Emanuel apologized for the tragic shooting of McDonald and vowed to bring change to the Chicago police department. "I am the mayor," he said. "As I said the other day, I own it. I take responsibility for what happened because it happened on my watch." The address, which lasted 35 minutes, was met with criticism almost immediately, as activists found his apology empty.
In addition to the McDonald shooting, protesters have become angered by two other similar cases involving the Chicago police, both of which occurred in 2012. On Monday, a video was released showing the 2012 jailhouse treatment of Philip Coleman, who was tased and dragged out of his cell by police. He later died in police custody. In November, Superintendent of Police Garry McCarthy, who has since been fired, announced that he would recommend firing officer Dante Servin, who fatally shot 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, an unarmed African American woman, in March 2012.
Protesters clashed with police throughout the afternoon as large groups of people crowded busy streets and commercial districts. The protesters called for Emanuel's resignation, greater transparency in police investigations, and justice for the victims of the three incidents. In many cases, the protesters even blocked streets and disrupted traffic in downtown Chicago.
By around 6 p.m. local time, protesters had begun to disperse, according to ABC News. Later in the evening, though, protesters swapped the streets for the police department headquarters. Protesters filled an auditorium at the police headquarters, where they sat in on a meeting of the police board. CBS Chicago reported that close to a hundred protesters also gathered on the streets outside of the headquarters.
In the meeting, protesters called for the firing of Servin, as well as the officers involved in the other two incidents, and some even called for the resignation of the entire police board. McCarthy was already fired by the mayor on Dec. 1 for his involvement in the McDonald shooting investigation.
It's unclear if the protesters will ultimately get what they want. For his part, Emanuel told Politico last week that he has no plans to resign, and there is currently no way to remove a Chicago mayor from office. As of Wednesday afternoon, though, an Illinois state representative by the name of La Shawn Ford filed a bill that would allow for a special election to remove Emanuel from office. To make things even more interesting, Ford and Emanuel are both Democrats. Clearly, the massive protests have had a significant impact in even a relatively short amount of time.