Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mayor Richard J. Daley dies in Office on December 20, 1976.

Chicago’s Richard J. Daley (1902-1976) was among the most famous big-city mayors of 20th century America. He earned election to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1936, and served as Democratic minority leader in the state senate from 1941 through 1946. Moving into Chicago politics, Daley took over as chair of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee in 1953. 

Elected as the 38th Mayor of Chicago for a total of 21 years (six terms) beginning on April 20, 1955 until his death on December 20, 1976, he cultivated alliances with organized labor and industry, but drew criticism for the violence that erupted in the 1968 riots when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The riot inspired Mayor Daley to issue his famous order, "shoot to kill arsonists" and "shoot to maim looters."[1] He held office until he died from a heart attack on December 20, 1976.

His son, Richard M. Daley served as the 43rd Mayor of Chicago from 1989 to 2011.

[1] Richard J. Daley's, "Shoot to kill arsonists" and "shoot to maim looters" statement explained.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on Thursday, April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. The next night there were riots in over 100 cities. Dr. King, the apostle of nonviolence, by far the most respected figure in the black community, had been gunned down by a white man.

Chicago experienced the most destructive and most deadly riot in the country, with nine people killed and huge areas of the west side leveled by fires. The riot inspired Mayor Richard J. Daley to issue his famous order, "shoot to kill arsonists" and "shoot to maim looters." But the order was not what it seemed. It was issued a full week after calm had been restored, it was not actually given to the police, and, ironically, it came about because newspaper editors were afraid to print evidence that four of the deaths in the riot were highly suspicious. Chicago Reader - April 4, 2002

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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