WBEZ: McCarthy publicly reassures Muslims

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy addressed Chicago-area Muslims over the weekend for the first time since they learned that police conducted blanket surveillance of Muslims in Newark, N.J. while he was police director there.

Last week McCarthy met privately with Muslim civil rights leaders to allay their concerns on the issue. On Saturday at the annual fundraising banquet for the Chicago office of the Council on American Islamic Relations, McCarthy spoke to a much broader audience of hundreds of local Muslim-Americans.

“The Chicago Police Department does not, and will not, conduct blanket surveillance or profiling of any community in the City of Chicago,” said McCarthy.

He acknowledged that the recent revelation of the spying operation created a challenge for him in his new post.

“I’d like to make it very clear that I’m a big believer in communication and transparency,” he said, “and sometimes growing out of crisis, there’s an opportunity, and I believe that that’s the case here.”

McCarthy is the first Chicago Police Superintendent to have attended a CAIR-Chicago annual banquet, according to CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab. Rehab said even if McCarthy knew of the spying effort in Newark, he believes that McCarthy did not intend to target Muslims maliciously. He said he’s also hopeful McCarthy’s promise to build positive relations between police and Muslims in Chicago is sincere.

“Look, time will tell,” said Rehab. “Politicians make promises, leaders claim things – as do our leaders in our community.”