A leading U.S. civil rights advocate vowed on Monday to wage a worldwide campaign to scuttle Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games if the city doesn't act quickly to stop what he characterized as "unchecked police misconduct."
In a news conference outside Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's office, the Rev. Al Sharpton said he would take alleged abuse victims on a world tour to talk with Olympic Committee officials involved in selecting the host city if Chicago failed to start implementing reforms at its scandal-plagued police department by the end of December.
Sharpton, whose National Action Network group is based in New York and set up a branch in Chicago this year, dismissed criticism he was an outsider meddling in Chicago issues as he delivered a 10-point reform plan drafted by his group.
"The world must know the kind of city this is if the world is being invited to come into this city," he said. The host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics will be picked next year.
Among the key demands in the Sharpton plan are stripping the mayor of final say in the firing and suspension of officers accused of misconduct and releasing the complete records of officers who have had repeated brutality or abuse complaints filed against them by African-Americans.
"It is a continual alarm that we have heard since being in Chicago -- the unchecked police misconduct," Sharpton said. "And in this climate, there seems to be an almost denial by city officials and by those that should be, in our judgment, dealing with this problem."
Neither the mayor's office nor the police department had any immediate comment.
The police department in Chicago, the third-largest U.S. city, has been under a cloud in recent years as a result of officer-involved shootings and claims of police misconduct.
Last week, the city agreed to pay nearly $20 million to settle claims by four African-American men who alleged they were tortured into murder confessions, the latest in a string of costly and embarrassing settlements.
Earlier this year, three Chicago police officers were charged with aggravated assault for allegedly beating four businessmen last December in an off-duty melee caught on a bar's videotape.
Two months later, an off-duty police officers was caught on tape punching and kicking a female bartender after she refused to serve him another drink.
The two incidents contributed to the resignation of the city's police chief and the appointment late last month of former Federal Bureau of Investigation official J.P. Weis as Chicago's top cop.
But Sharpton and other local activists blasted the appointment of Weis, who is white, saying it was made without any input from with the city's minority communities.
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