African-American aldermen on Monday lashed out at fired Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy for suggesting that middle-class blacks have fled Chicago, leaving “trigger-pullers” behind on the South and West Sides.
Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, condemned McCarthy’s sweeping characterization as “off-putting, disrespectful to black people” and bordering on racist.
“I guess that includes me, too. I was born and raised on the South Side and still live there — happily. That also includes my neighbors and friends, who are teachers and CTA bus drivers and engineers and doctors. We all live on the South Side and West Side. We’re not ‘trigger-pullers,’ as he so callously described it,” Sawyer said.
“It’s disrespectful to those of us who live here because we’re culturally sensitive about where we grew up and want to stay in neighborhoods where we were raised and try to improve them. He … just dismisses all of that and calls us all trigger-pullers.”
South Side Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said McCarthy has forfeited his right to even a sliver of the African-American vote in a 2019 race against Mayor Rahm Emanuel after an “extremely offensive” remark that shows a “total disregard for our community.”
“There are a lot of hard-working people who live in this city fighting for a good quality of life,” Beale said. “They’re fighting for their communities. These are very strong-rooted people. To insult the people who are just trying to make their communities safer every single day is a slap in their face.”
McCarthy refused to respond to the aldermanic blast.
Beale compared it to comments by Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker, who has spent the last week apologizing to the African-American community for what he said in a wiretapped 2008 conversation with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, now serving time in prison.
Among other things, Pritzker pitched Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White as the “least offensive” choice to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by then-President-elect Obama and dismissed former Senate President Emil Jones as “crass.”
McCarthy’s comments were not nearly so political, but controversial nevertheless.
During a Sunday fundraiser at the Irish American Heritage Center, McCarthy portrayed Chicago crime as out of control since Emanuel fired him on Dec. 1, 2015 in the unrelenting furor over the Laquan McDonald shooting video.
“We are losing blacks and you know which blacks we are losing? We are losing the middle class taxpayers who can afford to get out from the South and West Sides. So who is being left behind is the trigger-pullers. What kind of toxic soup is being created on the South and West Sides?” McCarthy asked.
That’s not the only recent statement that has McCarthy in hot water with African-Americans. He also said in a televised weekend interview with Fox32 Chicago political editor Mike Flannery that McDonald was not walking away from indicted Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke with a knife in his hand when Van Dyke fired the 16 shots that killed the black teen.
“He’s moving astride him. Everybody says he’s walking away. It’s not true to me. Walking away means you’re going in that direction and I’m standing here. That’s not the case,” McCarthy told Flannery.
“I’m citing reasons in police training that may refute a murder. That’s what it comes down to.”
McCarthy said officers are trained in what he called “the 21-foot rule” that essentially says: “If somebody is within 21 feet of you and they have an open knife, you’re dead.”
“Jason Van Dyke ended up in a tactically inferior position,” McCarthy said.
Once again, Beale was incredulous.
“Anybody who looks at that tape knows that he was walking away from that officer and that officer was walking toward him,” Beale said. “Maybe he needs to go and have his eyes checked to make sure he’s looking at the same tape the rest of the country was looking at.”
Sawyer said the video played around the world “shows a cold-blooded murder,” and if McCarthy “sees it any other way, I would really love for him to explain it to me.”
“I wish he would have explained it to us a couple of days after he saw the video. That would have been nice as well. If he felt the mayor didn’t want to tell us, he could have told us. It would have been nice to know back then what his opinion was about what occurred,” the alderman said.