Activist warns of ‘strong protests’ over city’s pick for interim top cop as officials tour police districts

On Saturday, former Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, Supt. Eddie Johnson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot toured police districts to help Beck familiarize himself with the city.

SHARE Activist warns of ‘strong protests’ over city’s pick for interim top cop as officials tour police districts
Retired LAPD chief Charlie Beck, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot tour the Englewood District police station on Saturday.

Retired LAPD chief Charlie Beck, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot tour the Englewood District police station after Beck was named interim police superintendent once Johnson retires.

Jake Wittich / Sun-Times

An activist warned newly announced Interim Police Superintendent Charlie Beck to expect “strong protests” from community members concerned about his previous tenure in Los Angeles as officials toured a number of police districts Saturday.

Beck, the former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, is poised to take over for Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson when he retires early next year and while the city searches for Johnson’s long-term replacement.

Beck’s first public stop Saturday was the Englewood District station, where Johnson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot showed him the district’s Strategic Decision Support Center — a room where police and civilian analysts monitor a network of gunshot detectors and surveillance cameras to collect data and track crime.

Johnson said it made sense for Englewood to be one of Beck’s first stops. In 2017, the district became one of the first stations to receive a support center, which were set up with help from Beck’s former chief of staff in Los Angeles, Sean Malinowski.

Since Chicago police started using the support centers, violent crime dropped 52% in the Englewood District and 38% citywide, Johnson said.

“These crime reductions are absolutely a result of the collaboration between LAPD and Chicago,” Johnson said. “I’m grateful that he was kind enough back then to give us those tools, and now we’re showing him the results of those tools.”

Lightfoot said Beck’s history of support for Chicago police shows he will have a “natural synergy” with the department.

“He’s only going to be here for a small amount of time, but I feel comfortable that he’s going to have real impact during this time,” Lightfoot said.

But as Beck begins to familiarize himself with the city, Black Lives Matter activists in Los Angeles have warned: “Take it from us, you don’t want him.”

“Under Chief Beck, the Los Angeles Police Department became the most murderous police department in the nation with 45 officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths in 2017. A title they continue to proudly hold,” the group wrote earlier this week.

Local community activist Mark Carter, who spoke with reporters outside the Englewood District station, said he was opposed Beck’s appointment as interim police superintendent.

Chicago activist Mark Carter said he will protest interim police Supt. Charlie Beck over his record at the Los Angeles Police Department.

Chicago activist Mark Carter said he will protest interim police Supt. Charlie Beck over his record at the Los Angeles Police Department.

Jake Wittich / Sun-Times

“You mean to tell me you had to reach all the way to California and nobody here was good enough to be interim superintendent?” Carter said.

Carter added he is helping organize what has become an annual Black Friday protest along Michigan Avenue that will in part oppose Beck’s appointment.

“We want to be very clear that [Beck] will be met with strong protests as long as he’s here with his background,” Carter said.

Lightfoot repeated Saturday that she’s not concerned about criticism over her decision to appoint Beck, saying Chicagoans should look at “the totality of a person’s work.”

Beck said that his track record with LAPD shows he’s committed to building relationships with the community.

“You have to talk to the entirety and not just a few voices that use this disinformation to discredit me or the Los Angeles Police Department,” Beck said. “You can talk to many black leaders of Los Angeles, [and] they would support me and tell you that I was a partner in the community. I believe in the community.”

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