Joliet Mayor Bob O’DeKirk addressed the media Tuesday afternoon after calls for his resignation came up last week following a skirmish on the streets of Joliet during a protest on May 31st.
“The idea of resigning never crossed my mind,” said Mayor Bob O’DeKirk this afternoon. “I was reelected a year ago, it’s a four-year term. I will finish my term. Certainly, at the end of this term, the people of Joliet will have a choice as to who they want to be the next Mayor.”
Critics and politicians alike have used the incident as a chance to revisit his police career with documents being presented to media outlets that the Mayor has called misinformation.
“I served honorably in Joliet for 10 years. In the last four years of my police career, I went to law school at night at John Marshall and achieved a law degree. I left the Joliet Police Department 17 years ago. That was a personal choice of mine that I made. I wasn’t forced out. I didn’t leave with discipline pending or looming. It was a choice I made. I was an outstanding police officer and part of me loved the job, but part of me recognized the toll the job was taking on me so I made a personal choice,” explained the Mayor Tuesday. “I was never disciplined for excessive force or any type of improper activity with abuse of a prisoner or abuse of a citizen of Joliet.”
The Mayor admits he was suspended, but not for any of the accusations that are being reported by various news outlets this week.
“I was suspended, but not for any of the things that are being alleged.” Mayor O’DeKirk said Tuesday. Among the reasons for suspension listed by the Mayor included things like missing a court date, having a vehicle parked improperly, and writing on a desk. “There’s bad information. That’s all I can say. My record is clear.”
The Mayor encouraged reporters to FOIA and print his police records.
“I mean you’re talking about my career 25 years ago. I’ve been an elected official for nine years. This was a smear I put up with when I ran for Mayor. Misinformation about my police career, misinformation about lawsuits that I was not involve in. So I really don’t care to go any further than what I’ve said. But I’m proud of my police career. I wish, the documents that are available, I wish you would print them. They talk about what kind of a police officer I was,” said Mayor O’DeKirk earlier this afternoon.
Mady Perez, a Joliet community activist who was on the scene the night of May 31st, attested to the scene of events that unfolded that Sunday night involving the Mayor and Joliet Police officers.
“They were rioting, they were looting, they were attacking, assaulting the police officers of Joliet. I also observed the Mayor be assaulted,” said Perez. ‘This is a time when we all need to come together and I pray and I hope that this situation will bring us all together to get those tough discussions.
The Mayor says towards the beginning of that evening, the Mayor and Police Chief were at the corner of Jefferson and Larkin speaking with a leader of a protest.
That’s when things began to escalate.
“As we were talking, a police officer next to me got hit in the face with a rock. That’s basically how things began to amount. I was on the scene, I certainly wasn’t going to flee or go home once it happened. I was there and doing what I can, again to try to defuse it. Try to get people to go home and to support our men and women on the front lines of this. I believe it’s my job as a Mayor to be there to make sure that those types of things are being done, especially in bad situations like what we had that Sunday evening.”
“What I saw Sunday night was horrific,” Perez explained. “I felt hopeless seeing this happen in front of me. Young people hanging out of their vehicles, screaming profanity, throwing water bottles, cans, things, it was horrible. I’ve never seen JPD be so violently attacked, and the Mayor be assaulted, and then physically attacked to the point that he was pushed to the ground, falling onto another citizen. It should never happen. It was horrible.”
Joliet police arrested 30 men and women in connection with the rioting and looting that followed the demonstration.
“It’s a miracle no one was killed that night. My 10 years as a policeman, I never saw anything like that. I was using my role as a mayor to defuse the situation.” said Mayor O’DeKirk today. “It was never my intention to distract from those protests.”
Ten Joliet businesses were vandalized and a grocery store torched that Sunday night.
“Yes, I’ve bumped heads with Mayor O’DeKirk, but I respect him. I will say that him being out there Sunday, I found a greater respect for him. It showed he really cares about our community.” Perez added in her statement to the media Tuesday.
As for Joliet’s Mayor, he said this afternoon he will continue to show support and work with members of the community in Joliet. “I’ve gone to protests, that day, after that day, I’ll continue to do that. If it’s happening in our City, I’ll be there.”
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow issued a statement following the incident saying 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.”
An investigation is currently being conducted into the events of the evening of Sunday, May 31st involving the Mayor of Joliet. Illinois State Police are leading the investigation.