Glenn Reedus is a thoughtful, experienced guy. He’s written for The Chicago Defender, the Crusader, South Suburban News, and the Chicago Reporter. For a time, he was Executive Editor at the Defender. He’s currently an independent journalist, and he’s also with DePriest Voters’. Chronicles.
We thought his might be a valuable voice after this rather loud, chaotic week in Chicago.
Did Mayor Emanuel do the right thing dismissing Garry McCarthy, we ask? Will he regret the decision?
“I doubt he will regret that,” he responds. “There was such an uproar, a persistent uproar to get rid of McCarthy, because as most of us see it, the guy at the head makes things happen, and McCarthy wasn’t making things happen…I don’t see a high point in his time here with the Mayor.”
What about the Mayor? He’s facing a drumbeat of calls for his own resignation. Should he comply?
“No,” asserts Reedus. “You would have chaos.”
It would ignite a City Council battle like those we’ve seen before, he says, and the Aldermen who could be elevated to the position wouldn’t necessarily be better than the Mayor we have.
“And if you got a new mayor there’s so many problems to fix that this new person wasn’t in on, and that’s going to take 3 years in office, so at best we’re running in place with a new mayor.”
One of this week’s most persistent speculations revolves around the timing of the McDonald video release and the 2014 Mayoral elections. African Americans, so enraged by the video, would have switched to Chuy Garcia in large numbers, it’s said, electing Garcia. We ask whether another scenario might have played out in which disenchanted black voters simply stayed home, allowing Emanuel the victory anyway.
“I don’t think they would have sat out,” Reedus responds. “I think emotion would have taken over and you’ve got a black kid being gunned down by a white officer caught on tape, and Mr. Garcia stands up and says, “There’s no way in the world that would happen. I can’t control every cop, but there’s no way in the world that would happen under my administration.” And that’s the plan that Rahm always said that Mr. Garcia did not have. In my opinion that would have been enough to dissuade some of Rahm’s voters. You know there were a lot of people out there getting paid to be pro-Rahm too and he made promises that obviously haven’t been kept.”
And what about State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez?
“I think that she’s desperate,” he explains. “Anybody in her situation would be desperate, and if there wasn’t so much heat around this entire thing she might have taken the hit for the Mayor, but now she’s fighting for her job and she’s not going to let this guy get in the way of that.”
And, Reedus asserts, that’s why Alvarez told Politico’s Natasha Korecki that her office never asked the Emanuel administration to resist lawsuits demanding the release of the video. So will her aggressive defense save her effort at re-election in just a couple of months?
“Not that I can see,” Reedus tells us. “Not only does she have this attached to her, she has a very formidable – in my opinion very formidable – candidate in Kim Foxx who used to work for her. But I think that Kim is the sort of breath of fresh air that’s needed in that office, and Alvarez came in as a reformer and we haven’t seen that.”
(You can watch Kim Foxx talking about her candidacy on Chicago Newsroom Right HERE.)
Mike Fourcher at Aldertrack posted an explosive report this week about a meeting between the Mayor and a group of African-American ministers that, let’s just say, didn’t go well. Reedus describes it for us.
“I don’t know if he called them in to ask for advice or to give them what their advice ought to be. But I read Mike’s story and talked to him about it, and I think he had four people to corroborate the events and that the Mayor pretty much said… This was right before the Black Friday protests, this thing had better stay peaceful. If it isn’t peaceful I’m going to blame you guys and when I blame you that means don’t come to me for jobs, don’t come for anything in your community. And one of the people who was attending who wasn’t a minister told him that was pretty racist.”
We ask Reedus why mayors and civic leaders still think it’s necessary to call in the African-American ministers when things go wrong.
“It goes way back,” he explains. Years back, when many American blacks were uneducated, the clergy were often the most educated leaders in a community, he says. They were often the point of first contact for people outside that community trying to communicate with, or organize these populations.
“That reverence for ministers just continued over the decades,” he continues, “And some wise politician was able to make that connection that all those people in those pews do what this guy says. And it’s just continued…But as the community has become better educated and we have access to everything, the reliance on ministers to provide political guidance has diminished tremendously. Unfortunately, I don’t think a lot of those ministers have gotten that message.”
Reedus was quite impressed with the Black Friday protest on the Mag Mile. “It was beautiful,” he says.
He says everyone involved deserves credit, including the Police, acting under the orders of Garry McCarthy.
“If you don’t create that intimidating presence you won’t get a violent reaction,” he asserts.
But Reedus reserves his strongest praise for the youth at the protest. “The most impressive thing was the young people, the Millennials, organizing this,” he explains. “At least seven, eight different groups, saying this is what we’re gonna do, this is when we’re gonna do it, this is how we’re going to do it…they took the lead.
Reedus says that years ago Paul Robeson and Marcus Garvey were able to organize using the earliest iterations of the American black press, and they also took advantage of the number of black Americans who had purchased radios. For the first time, there was mass-media access to these audiences. And by the 1960’s, it was another new medium.
“Television made Dr. King a national voice, a national leader,” he tells us. The SNCC, the Black Panthers, they all occupied a “separate lane”, but were all traveling in the same direction. Today, social media has provided another cohort an effective organizing tool.
“This time, the Millennials got in front of it, which has never happened. And they did an excellent job of getting the message across.”
“I think that there’s a huge generational shift,” says the journalist, “And the younger generation is sorting out how they’re going to proceed, and I’m hearing there are going to be other protests.”
And finally, Glenn Evans. He’s the Chicago Police Commander who may be on trial next week for a series of charges that he was abusive in his policing practices. Reedus wrote about it last month in the Chicago Reporter.
“He’s accused of seeing a guy at a bus stop,” Reedus explains. “And according to this man, Commander Evans was just staring at him- Evans was in the car – to the point that he got nervous and he ran. Evans chased him and caught him. According to Evans, the man had a gun. The man says he never had a gun. He said Evans put his service revolver in his mouth, put a taser against his genitals and kept shouting, where’s the gun? And so he sued, and this is a suit that stuck.”
But Glenn Evans has his supporters.
“There’s one camp that says, even though Evans runs rough-shod over people in the black community it’s OK because people want a safe community and they want the bad guys to know somebody’s gonna come down on them,” he tells us. “There’s another camp that says, whoa, the one you think’s a bad guy is my grandson, and maybe he’s hanging out with some people, but he’s not a bad kid, and even the ones he’s hanging out with, they have civil rights, and we don’t want them violated.”
“Then you have the Chicago Police Department,” Reedus concludes, “who has received all these complaints against Evans, but they ignored them because he keeps getting promoted.”
For additional information about the Evans case, here’s WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell on Chicago Newsroom giving us some deep background.
Note: the show this week went overtime, and you can watch the entire 58-minute show here.