Council Told Protection is Vital to City Life

By Ray McCarthy


Mayor Daley Explains His Order

Mayor Daley today stood firm on his order to shoot arsonists and looters during civil disturbance if such action is necessary to stop them.  But he told the City council the police will use minimum force when that will suffice.

Well aware of the controversy his “shoot” order created Monday, the mayor went before the council this morning to clarify his statements

He received a long ovation from 400 spectators – half of them school children – when he stepped to the rostrum.

Overtime Pay

Not all the aldermen joined in the applause.

The mayor received more applause when he announced that police and firemen who worked as many as 72 hours overtime during the rioting April 5-7, will be paid for their efforts.

Daley, explaining his order of “shoot to kill” arsonists and “shoot to maim” looter if police think this is necessary to prevent burning and stealing during civil disturbances, told the council:

“It is the established policy of the police department – fully supported by this administration – that only the minimum force necessary be used by policemen in carrying out their duties.” 

Respect of Law Vital

Then he quickly added:

“But this established policy was never intended to support permissive violence, destruction, and a complete denial of that respect for law which is vital to our democratic way of life.”

Daley proclaimed May 1 as the city’s 11th annual observance of Law day ad used the introduction of this resolution to explain more fully his “shoot” orders issued on Monday.

Aldermen Satisfied

Daley's explanation that minimum force will be used whenever possible apparently satisfied many anti-administration aldermen who had criticized his “shoot” orders.

His resolution calling for observance of Law day, and indirectly for approval of his stand on the handling of arsonists and looters, was passed unanimously by all 44 aldermen  present.  Even Ald. Leon M. Despres (5th), one of Daley’s constant critics, called the mayor’s minimum force statement “excellent.”

Great Significance

            Asserting that the observance of Law day never had greater significance to every citizen, the mayor said:

            “Certainly an officer should do everything in his power to make an arrest – to prevent a crime – by utilizing minimum force necessary.  But I cannot believe that any citizen would hold that policeman should permit an arsonist to carry out his dangerous, murderous mission when minimum force cannot prevent or deter him.  There are few crimes that hold the potential loss of life, or threat to the entire community, as does arson.

            “Nor do I believe that any citizen supports the theory that in times of riot and chaos any person has the right to willfully and maliciously throw a brick thru a store window for the purpose of burglary, encourage mob behavior and urge persons to become burglars and thieves and thus expose themselves to serious injury from possible police action.  Again, that person should be restrained if possible by minimum force necessary – but he cannot be given permissive rights for his criminal action.

            “Much has been written and said – and I have been both highly praised and bitterly criticized – about the role of the police during a dangerous and inflammable riot.”

Basic Responsibility

            Daley said the basic responsibility of the police department is to protect the hundreds of thousands of citizens of this community from loss of life, destruction, and mayhem.  He added:

            “There can be no possible justification of a deliberate criminal act which results in helpless and homeless victims of a holocaust.  All of the people on the west side had one universal demand – protect us from the arsonists, from the looters, from the mob and its leaders.

Same as Assassins

            “Men poised with Molotov cocktails, incendiaries, or fire bombs of any kind – are the same as the assassins who pulled the triggers on the gun that killed the    Rev. Martin Luther King and the late President John F. Kennedy.

            “We cannot resign ourselves to the proposition that civil protests must lead to death and devastation – to abandonment of the law that is fundamental for the preservation of the rights of all people and their freedom.”


Map of Events and Incidents following the
assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King
click to enlarge

Important Departure

            Despres termed Daley’s statement “a very constructive and important departure from the statements reported in the press that the police were to shoot to kill arsonists and shoot to main or cripple burglars or thieves.”  He said:

            “I welcome the departure. I would welcome still more in the interest of a better society of the goals we seek on social betterment, a straightforward statement withdrawing that very dangerous incitement which was reported in the press.”

Inhuman Conditions

            Despres said that everyone opposes arson and looting and that he condemns them unreservedly.  However, he added, “we must also recognize that these are acts that arise from some off the most damaging, injurious, and inhuman conditions and they constitute in a crude way a cry for help from the west side and the black Chicagoans.”

            The original purpose of the resolution    - to establish Law day – was quickly lost as the alderman discussed police riot  policies. Ald. Thomas E. Keane [37th], council floor leader, backed Daley’s original “get tough” policy.

Brass Knuckles Time

            He said:  “I think that instead of criticizing the actions that police may be instructed to take, it’s time we got down to the brass knuckles of telling those who commit the crimes that they had better stop committing them.”

            Ald. Wilson Frost [21st], a first-term Negro council member who is regarded as an administration supporter, told the mayor his first statement “caused an inflammatory attitude in my neighborhood.”

Deluged with Calls

            A mayoral spokesman said City hall has been deluged with letters since his shooting statement.  More than 90 per cent of the letters, he said, have supported the mayor.

            Daley criticized Police Supt. James B. Conlisk Jr. on Monday for failing to carry out his shoot orders during the rioting and ordered Conlisk to issue new instruction to his policemen.  In the general order which Conlisk then sent out, the superintendent said:

            “Arson, attempted arson, burglary and attempted burglary, are forcible felonies.  Such force as is necessary, including deadly force, shall be used to prevent the commission of these offenses and to prevent the escape of the perpetrations.”

Conlisk in Middle

            Conlisk appears to have become the focal point of the widening controversy.  At stake is his $40,000 a year job.  He was appointed to succeed Supt. O.W. Wilson on June 23, 1967.

            Most city hall observers feel that Conlisk’s future hinges on the report of the 9-member riot study committee, headed by federal District Judge Richard B. Austin.

            Daley said he will follow any recommendations the committee makes.  Should the report place Conlisk in a bad light, it is believed the superintendent will be fired  - despite his long friendship with the mayor.

            There has been speculation that Conlisk may be replaced by Maj. Gen. Francis P. Kane former commander of the National Guard and another close friend and support of Daley.

Will Aid Committee

            School Supt. James F. Redmond said he would investigate charges by the mayor that there was a breakdown in discipline in west side schools after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., on April 4.

            Redmond said he would cooperate with the riot investigating committee in analyzing the disorder and its causes.