CHICAGO — As hundreds of protesters took to Michigan Avenue to protest shooting death of Laquan McDonald, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy defended his department — and said a prominent activist who was arrested Tuesday should not have been released.
London, 22, was arrested shortly after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, when police said he hit an officer during protests over the killing of McDonald in the 100 block of East Balbo Avenue near Grant Park, according to a Chicago Police Department news release. But when he appeared in bond court Wednesday, Judge Peggy Chiampas said all charges had been dropped and that London was free to go.
"Honestly, the protest went exceptionally well because of the professionalism of Chicago Police officers," McCarthy said. "You filmed it...people screaming in their faces, getting hit with spittle. Throwing objects and in one case, actually, clearly assaulting a police officer and getting cut loose from custody which shouldn't happen."
According to a police report, London punched the officer in the eye, causing the officer's eye to bruise and turn purple and blue. When police tried to arrest London, he pulled away and resisted, the report said.
London's supporters had gathered outside the courthouse Wednesday and #FreeMalcolmLondon became a national trending topic on Twitter.
It was unclear why Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's office dropped the charges and her spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. She was under tremendous pressure to do so, however. A coalition of black aldermen had also joined the social media call for London's release.
Todd St. Hill, an organizer with Black Youth Project (BYP100), said in a statement: "McCarthy's statement shows that he is truly not, and has no intention of being accountable to the people of this city particularly the Black people of this city."
"As we stated earlier the people involved in the demonstrations were peaceful UNTIL the police got involved. Hitting, choking, and dragging people is not professional behavior. Throwing bikes at citizens is not professional behavior. It is however part of routine practices of the chicago Police Department. McCarthy is upset because of the enormous support that Malcolm got from the city. It was clear that Malcolm was targeted as a local leader in this movement by the CPD and continues to targeted by them. This unacceptable, but this is normal police behavior towards Black people."
Protesters have been calling for the firing of McCarthy, Alvarez and Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the days since the video of McDonald's slaying went viral, saying they attempted to cover up the incident.
"The Mayor has made it very clear that he has my back," McCarthy said, adding that the department has been doing an "exceptional" job. "Quite frankly, I'm not going to quit on the people of Chicago. I'll never quit on these men and women [officers standing behind him]."
McCarthy reiterated his support for peaceful protest Friday, adding that "criminal actvity" would not be tolerated.
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