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'Sun-Times' Editorial Board Called For Chicago Police Superintendent's Firing


A police video taken in Chicago is not easy to watch. A young man is walking away from a camera. He's got something in his hand which police say is a knife. He keeps walking. You see an officer aiming a gun. The young man keeps walking, and then he tumbles down. An autopsy found he was shot 16 times, and he does not appear to have been attacking anyone when he was shot. The release of this video prompted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to dismiss his police commissioner yesterday. The Chicago Sun-Times newspaper called for that resignation, and Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell is on the line. Good morning.

MARY MITCHELL: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Is this resignation enough?

MITCHELL: No, I think this is the very beginning of what I think will be a line of resignations. I think that now that McCarthy has been dismissed, the pressure will be on Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign because in Chicago, the concern here is that there has been some type of cover-up, an attempt to keep the videotape and this information from the public.

INSKEEP: Let's remind people that are not in Chicago that this video was known about but not released for many months before it finally came out last week. That's what you're talking about when you say cover-up.

MITCHELL: I'm talking about 13 months, more than year of investigations in which not one agency that was charged with investigating this police-involved shooting came up with any conclusions or any findings and that the - in order to get the videotape, a freelance journalist had to go to court and file a four-yeared (ph) lawsuit to get it released. And then abruptly, City Hall decided - Mayor Rahm Emanuel decided right before Thanksgiving to release the videotape. We have been calling for that release for more than a year.

INSKEEP: You have not called for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign.

MITCHELL: No, we have not, and I think that will not come - certainly, protesters are asking for Rahm Emanuel to be - to resign, but the newspaper has not - I have not written a column asking for his resignation. I think that we need an outside, independent investigator to determine whether or not there was intentional on the part of City Hall to keep this information from the public.

INSKEEP: Mayor Emanuel has appointed a task force to look into police conduct. Is that the right step?

MITCHELL: I think it is the first step. I don't know that it is a right step yet because most of the people appointed to that task force are connected in some way to the mayor or to City Hall. Protesters are asking for an independent, citizen-led police task of accountability group to be formed, and that has not happened.

INSKEEP: In the moment that we have left, I just want to mention there have been so many police shootings that have drawn so much attention over the last couple of years. Now we have this incident happening specifically in Chicago. What, if anything, is special about Chicago, its situation, its story?

MITCHELL: Well, the - what's special here is that there does appear to be an attempt to keep the information from the public and that it took so long - 13 months - for this information to be made public. I think that is what's different.

INSKEEP: And is there something special about the history of police-community relations in Chicago?

MITCHELL: Well, police relations in Chicago has always been tense. It continues to be a situation where the community does not trust the police officers. And that was one of the things that the mayor promised when he was elected that he would work on to make sure that there was trust built between the communities of color and the police department. That has not happened.

INSKEEP: In about 15 seconds, have you had a chance to talk to Mayor Emanuel?

MITCHELL: I have tried to talk to the mayor about this for months now. His office has refused to get back to me, so I have not been able to have a conversation with him personally about this.

INSKEEP: OK. Ms. Mitchell, thank you very much.

MITCHELL: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Mary Mitchell is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times which called for the resignation of Chicago's police commissioner. He was fired yesterday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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