Joliet Mayor's Scuffle During Protests Draws Criticism, State Police Inquiry

Bernie Tafoya
June 03, 2020 - 2:15 pm
Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk

Joliet Mayor Bob O'Dekirk (FACEBOOK)


(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The mayor of Joliet is under scrutiny after he scuffled with two men during a tense weekend of protests — with one religious leader saying he should resign. 

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk was in the wrong and should step down, says Bishop Steven Evans of Leap of Faith Ministries. He says this is based on his discussion with one of the men involved in the altercation, much of which was caught on video.

The incident could have turned into a deadly encounter, Evans said Wednesday. 

"Sometimes it only takes one person and, for that one person to be the mayor, is unacceptable,” he said.

The incident happened at Jefferson and Larkin where there had been a protest Sunday night followed by looting and the burning of a business. O’Dekirk said he was on hand to back up police who, he insists, were outnumbered. The mayor is a former Joliet police officer.

O’Dekirk said he was first pushed by a 23-year old man and grabbed him to take him to a police car. Video that has been posted on social media does not catch the moment before O'Dekirk has his hands on the young man. 

The tape also shows the two men falling to the ground after the 23-year-old’s man’s brother jumps into the fray. Police broke things up and arrested the two men.

Bishop Evans disagrees that neither of the two men was injured, as the mayor has said. Evans said the younger man suffered bruises to his face and now has head and back pain. 

The bishop also says the two men were "pummeled" by other police officers at the scene.

Joliet police are having an outside agency, the Illinois State Police, investigate the incident.

Bishop Evans says he talked to the 23-year old man involved in the altercation and believes him. 

"I asked him personally. I said, ‘Did you reach for the mayor, did you jump towards the mayor, did you say anything threatening, did you  spit at the mayor?’ and he answered all those questions, ‘No.’”

Evans also said it was wrong for the mayor to think he could serve as police backup, even if he is a former officer.

“That’s not his  job. That’s not his responsibility to be out there doing what paid law enforcement officials are supposed to do,” he said.

Evans said the mayor should face criminal charges.

A former Joliet alderman and a current Will County Board member are among those calling for Mayor O'DeKirk's resignation.