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Local News

State's attorney calls for police investigation of Joliet mayor's scuffle at protest

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow issued a statement that the “office” requested an investigation of Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk’s scuffle at a demonstration protesting the death of George Floyd.

“The Office of the State’s Attorney has requested further investigation by an independent third party agency to ensure as in all cases that the interests of justice and fairness are served,” the statement said.

State’s Attorney James Glasgow’s name was not included in the statement. Glasgow failed to return a call for comment.

The statement did say the state’s attorney’s office “reviewed the investigative reports and two independent videos regarding the June 1 incident involving Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk and the arrests of two individuals in Joliet.”

“No final charging decision can be made until a full and independent investigation is completed,” the statement said. “The Joliet Police Department agrees and is requesting that the Illinois State Police conduct the investigation to avoid any potential conflicts of interest and ensure a completely transparent process.”

O’Dekirk grabbed a man and threw him to the ground during the demonstration early Monday morning.

The demonstration at the corner of Jefferson Street and Larkin Avenue turned violent and destructive, as 10 businesses were vandalized and a grocery store was torched.

The Joliet police arrested 30 men and women in connection with the rioting and looting that followed the demonstration.

Before throwing the man to the ground, O’Dekirk shouts at the crowd to “go home.”

The video was posted to YouTube.

O’Dekirk issued a statement on the incident Tuesday afternoon.

“On Sunday afternoon, I had a great discussion with peaceful protesters who are justifiably angry about the death of George Floyd and were looking to participate in building a better understanding between minority members of the Joliet community and local government,” O’Dekirk said in the statement.

“We were all working toward a common goal,” O’Dekirk said.

“On Sunday night, after the peaceful protesters had made their views known and gone home, the looters, vandals and arsonists came out in force to disgrace themselves, their families and our community,” he said.

“As a former Joliet Police officer and as the Mayor of Joliet sworn to uphold the laws our state and city, I was on the front lines with our police officers urging anyone disturbing the peace or engaging in criminal activity to go home,” O’Dekirk said. “The general response was a cascade of verbal abuse followed by rock, bottles, bricks, fireworks and punches being thrown at police officers attempting to protect the peaceful citizens of Joliet.

“I was confronted by a rioter, then attacked. Using standard police tactics to immobilize the attacker by separating him from the crowd and walking him backwards toward police officers, I was jumped from behind by a second attacker. They were arrested — unharmed—and are subject to a bond hearing and criminal trial. Unlike many Joliet first responders protecting Joliet that night, I was lucky enough to walk away with just a few bruises.

“As Mayor of Joliet, I am calling on all of our citizens to stand together. We all should defend the right to protest. We all should condemn the violence that is engulfing our nation and state. And we should all do our part to promote the defense of our families, our homes, our local businesses,our community, and our mutual values as Americans.”

Bishop Steven Evans of Leap of Faith Ministries in Joliet said he has spoken with the man grabbed by O’Dekirk, 23-year-old Victor Williams of Lockport, Williams’ brother, Jamal Smith, 28, of Crest Hill, and a woman who was with them at the demonstration and was pepper-sprayed by police.

Williams and Smith were both arrested on charges of mob action and aggravated assault, according to police.

Smith spent two days in the hospital, Evans said, and Williams was in the emergency room Tuesday with head, neck and back pain.

Evans said Williams, his brother and the woman were walking to their car so they could leave when O’Dekirk told them they had to head the other way, then attacked Williams. Smith “runs over there to help his brother and they were both pummelled.”

None of the three knew O’Dekirk was the mayor, Evans said, as he was not wearing a uniform or identification.

“He looked like he was dressed for a fight,” Evans said of O’Dekirk, adding, “His actions could very easily have escalated this to a blood bath.”

Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner failed to return a call for comment.

Joliet City Councilman Larry Hug said he had not seen the video. Councilmen Duck Dickinson and Mike Turk declined to comment. Councilman Pat Mudron said he wanted to find out more about the situation before commenting.

“I need to hear the rest of the story,” Mudron said.

The other members of the city council were contacted as well but did not comment.

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