Aftermath: the Influence of Chicago Activists

Democratic presidential candidates understand this concept and react to the pressure by those who will elect them. By contrast, Brown explains that aldermanic inaction is due to the focus on their reelection. “Chicago['s] climate is territorial as it relates to aldermen. Our elected officials in Chicago are not very supportive [f]or fear of one thing: being challenged at the upcoming election.”

It took the video release of Laquan McDonald's shooting and BLM activists' protests, such as shutting down Michigan Avenue on Black Friday, for Chicago politicians to make a major move towards reform. On December 1, 2015, after days of protests by Chicago activists, Mayor Emanuel called for the resignation of Superintendent McCarthy. The hundreds of activists who walk the streets now call for their aldermen to continue to stand up for those who elect them and demand for the additional resignations of Emanuel and Anita Alvarez.

BLM has made major political changes in Chicago. Not only will elected officials will face tough reelection campaigns, but the Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, has urged the United States Attorney General's office to look into the Chicago Police Department at a structural level. For Alvarez, her continued role with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office will be decided in March of 2016 when she runs for reelection. And while public scrutiny has been focused on Alvarez and Emanuel, activists have insisted that aldermen--especially black aldermen--must also face public accountability. As activist Rachel Williams of BYP 100 stated,

The black aldermen have been consistently silent on the violence that happens in our communities. .... The black aldermen who stood here a few months ago [to call for Supt. McCarthy's resignation] are not a reflection of that community either, because they have failed to do their jobs. So when we talk about getting rid of from top to bottom, it also starts with those aldermen. Those aldermen who feel the need to pacify the community, but who do not stand with that community when that community is consistently harmed. We are tired of it and we are no longer standing by, letting it happen.