ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said he did not support comments made by Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea at a press conference last month which has sparked a backlash from protesters.
“I want to say, number one, that I do not agree with Chief O’Shea’s comments,” McNamara said. “Every single person who calls Rockford home is valuable. They’re worth fighting for.”
“I’m the mayor of the entire city of Rockford. It’s been an unbelievable honor. I’ve learned more in the last week in my meetings with different citizens that I’ve had the opportunity to learn, probably in the three years that I’ve been there,” he said.
A group of protesters, known as Rockford Youth Activism, included on a list of demands that O’Shea rescind his comments, which have since been widely shared on Twitter in light of the recent wave of protests in Rockford.
Watch the entire press conference here.
The comments came from a May 18th press conference where O’Shea addressed a series of recent murders and shootings, and an incident in which a suspect had fired on police officers.
He was asked if Rockford Police were planning education and prevention programs for teens, following a wave of shootings and murders in the city.
O’Shea said, “The 16, 17-year-olds running around shooting each other, we’re not wasting our time trying to save them. They are lost. We’re trying to focus on 4 or 5-year-olds all the way up to 12 or 13, where we have a chance at saving them, changing their lives and changing the direction they are going in it. And we’re only a part of it. They need family, they need relatives, you know friends that will keep them on that path as well. Seventeen-year-olds that go around committing murders and shooting at people, yeah, well, sorry. Off to prison you go. I got nothing for you. Your family failed you up until this point and there is nothing that we can do for you.”
McNamara said, “My job right now is to listen to the black community, specifically, the black community, to see where I have failed them, where this city has failed them, where this country has failed them, [no matter] if it’s happened in the last week, two weeks, three weeks, or 300 years.”
In a update on the county’s battle against coronavirus, Dr. Sandra Martell, director of the Winnebago County Health Department, announced 72 new cases of COVID-19, and said the positivity rate of new coronavirus tests is at 10.5%, down from 17% at the peak in April. There have been 2,421 cases in total.
Martell said 69 people have died of coronavirus in Winnebago County to date.
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