CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Chicago police say they are ready for whatever happens as a result of the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video, and they plan to allow and protect people's rights to protest and demonstrate.
Chicago police have handled many significant protests in the past, including most recently the NATO protests, and so they say they know what they are doing and will be ready.
At this point, police are not bringing in extra officers or cancelling days off, but if needed they will do so.
“We're obviously always planning for the worst case scenario and expecting the best and in this case we're in that same position,” said Supt. Garry McCarthy.
McCarthy said he is not predicting doom and gloom as people vent their frustration over the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the hands of officer Jason Van Dyke. However, he is also warning those who would use the release of the video as an excuse for violence: don't do it.
“People have a right to be angry, people have a right to protest, people have a right to free speech, but they do not have a right to commit criminal acts,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said he is confident that his officers will be professional in how they handle protesters, but given what has happened in other cities in the wake of police involved shootings, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police is worried about the safety of the men and women in blue who will be on the front lines or elsewhere in the city in the days ahead.
“It's a difficult time for police, it's a difficult time for the city and our officers are concerned about the demonstrations spilling over into some sort of civil unrest and their safety is what I'm concerned about,” said FOP President Dean Angelo Sr.
Police and the mayor are counting on leaders and members of the community to do their part to encourage calm despite their frustrations over how McDonald was killed.
“In my view, this episode can be a moment of understanding and learning. Will we use it, and the question is before all of us is will we use this episode and this moment to build bridges that bring us together as a city or will we allow it to become a way that erects barriers that tear us apart as a city?” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.
Superintendent McCarthy said his department has been planning for this day for some time, knowing the video would be released at some point.
Police, like most of the rest of the city, will be watching and waiting to see how this plays out in the days ahead, particularly on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Meanwhile, some community leaders say the ultimate responsibility for this shooting lies at police headquarters, and they want Superintendent McCarthy to resign.
On Tuesday, Reverend Jesse Jackson called for sweeping change in the Chicago Police Department, citing its alleged failures in the city's high-crime communities.
"75 percent of murders are unsolved. Meaning we're recycling murderers into the neighborhoods to kill more than one person," said Rev. Jackson.
Another longtime activist, Congressman Bobby Rush, noted that next week is the 46th anniversary of a Chicago Police raid that left his friend, Fred Hampton, dead.
Hampton was the leader of the Black Panther Party, with Rush then the party's self-styled defense minister.
"And we have the same police department murdering willy-nilly black men here in the City of Chicago. When is it going to stop?" Rush said.
Ald. Walter Burnett told FOX 32 that the shooting video was difficult to watch.
"Something was wrong with that young man. It made me hurt for those families. I was thinking I could have known them. Just a hurting thing. I think something was wrong with that police officer," Burnett said.
Rev. Jackson added, "We need and demand a White House conference on violence and economic development."