JOLIET, Ill. (WGN) — There have been several calls for Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk to resign, including from a group of pastors, after the mayor was caught on video grabbing a man by the neck.
On Tuesday, the mayor, several community leaders, and a community activist spoke out and claimed that the mayor is not getting a fair shake.
O’Dekirk answered critics publicly for the first time, continuing to defended his actions after cellphone video showed him grabbing a young man by the neck as he was leaving a Black Lives Matter protest on May 31. That young man was then forced to the ground where he and his brother were swarmed by Joliet police officers. O’Dekirk said it was self-defense.
“I only acted to defend myself because I felt my personhood was threatened,” the mayor said. “So to those who choose to be critical, please do not mischaracterize my actions as an attack, I sought to hurt no one but only preserve my only personal safety in the middle of the chaos.”
Some Joliet community members spoke on O’Dekirk’s behalf including the president of the South Suburban Black Chamber of Commerce, the Joliet Black Police Officer’s Association, and a community activist who says she saw what happened.
“I’ve never seen JPD be so violently attacked and the mayor be assaulted and then physically attacked to the point where he was pushed to the ground, falling onto another citizen,” Mady Perez, a community activist, said.
However, protesters are calling for the mayor to resign and be charged and questioned why as mayor, he was out policing the night of the demonstrations.
“He didn’t know that was the mayor, the mayor was identified in any way other than a white man in black clothes, that is it he had no idea who it was,” Suzanna Ibarra, Joliet resident, said.
O’Dekirk, who spent 10 years on the Joliet police force said he was trying to defuse the situation. The Illinois State Police is now conducting an investigation.
The brothers who were arrested in the case have yet to be officially charged but they have filed a lawsuit. They have a court date of July 2.