Calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's resignation continued Thursday, the same day activists requested that "all criminal cops" in Chicago and "their co-conspirators in government" be investigated and prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department.
Protests continued in Chicago Thursday evening, with hundreds rallying to demand the resignations of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and call for a federal investigation into alleged police crimes in the city.
The protest started at Federal Plaza, where activists called for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate and prosecute "all criminal cops" in Chicago and "their co-conspirators in government." Activists also demanded the installment of a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), which would investigate and prosecute claims of crimes by Chicago police.
From there, the group marched to City Hall, where protesters staged a "die-in" as they chanted, "16 shots and a cover-up!"
"Whatever we have to do to put pressure on Rahm Emanuel to step down, that's what we're gonna do," said activist Zakiyyah Muhammad. "We want him out, and Anita Alvarez."
Emanuel has come under fire for keeping the Laquan McDonald shooting video under wraps for more than a year, until a judge ordered its release last month. Alvarez is facing harsh criticism for taking just as long to bring first-degree murder charges against Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer who shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times.
Among those at the protest was Dorothy Holmes, the mother of Ronald Johnson III.
Johnson, 25, was fatally shot by Chicago police in October 2014. Dash-cam video of Johnson's shooting was released Monday, the same day Alvarez announced that the officer who fatally shot Johnson would not face criminal charges. Alvarez says the video shows that Johnson had a gun, but Holmes maintains that her son was unarmed when he was killed.
"Rahm Emanuel and Anita Alvarez covered up the shooting of Laquan McDonald and my son Ronald Johnson, and they're still covering up because the officer that killed my son, George Hernandez, should have been charged with murder, and she did not find him at fault," Holmes said. "It wasn't justified because the video showed that he was unarmed at the time he was murdered by George Hernandez ... He should have been charged with (Johnson's) murder and he wasn't."
"I gotta keep fighting until I clear his name," she said of Johnson, who would have turned 27 years old on Monday.
Before the protest, a delegation of activists and victims of alleged police crimes met briefly with a representative from U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Zachary Fardon's office. The group, organized by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression (CAARPR), dropped off a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Fardon including 50 complaints of alleged police torture and abuse that they want investigated.
The letter further requested the immediate closure of Homan Square, a Chicago police facility on the West Side that allegedly functions as an "off-the-books" detention and interrogation center.
Thursday marked the second time CAARPR has asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into alleged police crimes. They made a similar request in August 2014 but claim to have never heard back from Justice Department officials.
Activists delivered their letter as news broke related to the McDonald case. The Chicago Tribune reported that two Cook County sheriff's officers were at the McDonald shooting scene, but their appearance was not noted in police reports.
"This is just a classic example of how the system works," CAARPR's Frank Chapman said in response to the news. "Our organization has been saying for years that the police cover-up their crimes, and now we got evidence."
"Now, what are they going to do? That is why we're down here today, at the Department of Justice, because it is time that the criminals be indicted and prosecuted. And who do we mean by the criminals? I mean those who have been committing murder in this city with impunity and getting away with it because they're wearing a badge and a blue suit. We gotta do something about that."
Also at the protest was Emmett Farmer, whose son, Flint, was killed by Chicago police in 2011. Flint's case is among those activists want investigated by the Justice Department.
Officer Gildardo Sierra was captured on video shooting an unarmed Flint seven times, including three times in the back. The officer said he mistook a cellphone Flint had for a gun. No charges were brought against Sierra. In 2013, the city provided a $4.1 million settlement to Flint's father.
"We're tired of these cover-ups. We're tired of not getting justice for ... our children," Emmett said, adding that he hopes the Justice Department reopens his son's case "and Gildardo Sierra gets indicted, prosecuted and sent to jail for the murder of my son."
Here's more from Emmett, plus other scenes from the protest:
The case of Bertha Escamilla's son, Nicholas, is also highlighted in the letter. Her son was allegedly tortured by Chicago detectives working under the orders of former police commander Jon Burge and spent 14 years behind bars for a murder he says he did not commit.
"I am here to support all the families who have loved ones that were killed, but I'm also here for other people who, in another different way, their lives were taken," she said. "They were kidnapped from their families. They were tortured by these police officers ... The only way they are in jail is because of cohesion, because police officers forced them to do this. These police officers have to be prosecuted for crimes they committed."