News - Joliet and Will County

Protesters appear at Joliet mayor’s house again, say council is next

Activist Loretta Hobbs protests Thursday outside Mayor Bob O'Dekirk's house in Joliet.

A smaller group of protesters than the group that came out a week ago stood outside Mayor Bob O’Dekirk’s house Thursday.

Leaders of the cause, however, said they plan not only to come back next week but also to spread their presence to the houses of council members and urge them to join the call for O’Dekirk’s resignation.

The protesters are among those, including some church leaders and one council member, who have called for the mayor’s resignation because of a May 31 incident captured on video when O’Dekirk grabbed a protester at a Black Lives Matter protest.

The incident developed into a scuffle that led to the arrest of two protesters. It is being investigated by state police.

“He needs to resign. That’s the bottom line,” said Steve Newell, one of 10 people who were outside O’Dekirk’s house Thursday.

The group of 10 included one infant and a small child.

Loretta Hobbs said the protest will go to the homes of seven of the eight members of the City Council while also returning to O’Dekirk’s house each week.

The one exception is Bettye Gavin, who has called for O’Dekirk to resign.

“So I’m going to leave her alone,” Hobbs said.

Gavin, however, said she is against the idea of protesting outside the mayor’s house.

“I think that’s wrong,” Gavin said. “His personal residence where his wife and children live is off limits. Come on down to City Hall and protest all that you want, but not at the man’s house.”

The Rev. Warren Dorris and the Rev. Herbert Brooks Jr., two pastors who have said O’Dekirk should resign, posted Facebook messages last week expressing opposition to the protest at the mayor’s house.

Whether O’Dekirk was home Thursday was hard to tell.

Unlike June 19, when O’Dekirk sat on his porch with about a dozen other people while 17 protesters were outside his house, neither the mayor nor anyone else appeared at the house.

Willie Manning, who joined the protest both nights, said he will come back.

“I think some people are scared to go up against the mayor,” Manning said. “They’re afraid of being harassed. They’re scared of being bullied by the mayor and his friends.”

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News