Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Apology -- Too Little, Too Late

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Rahm Emanuel

This week with growing calls for his recall Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel finally apologized for the killing of Laquan McDonald who was murdered in cold blood by police Officer Jason Van Dyke in October, 2014.

The mayor’s belated mea culpa is happening as the Justice Department launches an official investigation into police misconduct within the Chicago Police Department, especially in light of the variance between what the police said happened the night Mr. McDonald was killed and video from the police dash-cam video.

In the furor over the video, showing the malicious murder of McDonald, Mayor Emanuel fired the police Chief Garry McCarthy, but is this mayor being fully transparent with the public now regarding what he knows about the state of police abuses in the Chicago Police Department and the coverup of the McDonald case?

Speaking in front of the Chicago City Council, Mayor Emanuel said “I take responsibility for what happened because it happened on my watch.” Emanuel said Chicago needed to admit its failings and begin rebuilding trust. “The first step on that journey is my step,” he said. “And I’m sorry.”

Emanuel stated that, in policing, there is a need for ““nothing less than complete and total reform to the system and the culture that it breeds.”

He also denounced the “code of silence” which is strictly adhered to by police.

“Permitting and protecting even the smallest acts of abuse, by a tiny fraction of our officers, leads to a culture where extreme acts of abuse are more likely, just like what happened to Laquan McDonald,” he said.

“We need to reset our norms,” Emanuel said. “I know that personally, that I have a lot of work to do to win the public’s trust and that words are not enough.”

Some have hailed the mayor’s comments as brave. Indeed, if he made these comments a year ago it would have been a bold stance. But is Mayor Emanuel’s current contriteness anything more than the manifestation of a scared politician trying to save his neck from a public who wants his head on a chopping block? He's trying to evade culpability perhaps?

The mayor and his minions tried to suppress this video in an attempt to keep the public in the dark—before a court order ushered it into the light of public scrutiny. That effort was a clear cover-up operation that stinks to high heaven. What Chicago officials tried to do here is antithetical to transparency and democracy.

Republicans have been, rightly, criticized for their lack of concern regarding racist police practices—including the lies promoted by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who claimed Black Lives Matter activists promote murdering police officers. But can we really say that our liberal, “progressive” friends, who are Democrats, are that much better?

Mayor Emanuel is a Democrat—who just a few years ago was working in the administration of President Obama, as his chief-of-staff. What should we make of the fact that someone like Emanuel, who should be more receptive to the concerns of Black people, decided to turn a blind-eye to the murder and cover-up exhibited in this case? Isn’t this a shocking example of how Democrats are also betrayers of the trust Black America has put in them?

The mayor now has appointed some sort of panel to, supposedly, look into the problems of police in Chicago. How much more panels and reports do we need to have before politicians admit that the primary problems between police and Black people are rooted in America’s system of institutional racism?

The question of racism is the big ugly elephant in the room that politicians—including most Black ones—are too timid to speak about with total honesty. In fact, even President Barack Obama is careful whenever he is forced to make a commentary on American racism. He has been more direct and vocal during his second administration. Political pretending is what we usually get when brutal truth is what the whole of America needs.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Mayor Emanuel is only talking like this because the video became public. Moreover, his approval rating has sunk to around 18 percent and over 50 percent now want him to resign.

If the world had not seen Mr. McDonald executed on video, the Chicago Police official narrative would have remained as it was originally: that this Black man advanced with malice on his mind toward officers, who feared for their safety, and was killed in the encounter.

That narrative was convenient for the police and, not coincidentally, to Mayor Emanuel as well.

The official police press release stated the lie that the officer felt threatened by McDonald—even though Chicago Police had the video of their own dash-cam video. Doesn’t this tell us police officials had no compunction in lying to the public about this murder?

So, when they tell us the shooting of Ronald Johnson—who was also shot dead as he was going away from officers—was justified because they say he had a gun, why should we believe the Chicago Police department's account on the Johnson case?

We’ve heard the manager of a local Burger King say that police deleted an extended portion of the tape that Burger King gave them access too. What did that video footage show of the murder of McDonald? Shouldn’t all those who engaged in this blatantly obvious cover-up face criminal prosecution?

This episode gives us a crystal clear example of how the Blue Wall of Silence works. Police, and prosecutors, will shield police who commit crimes—even murder—against Black people. How many Black people were murdered like McDonald and had their crimes covered-up by corrupt cops and prosecutors? Perhaps that's a line of investigation the Justice department can also look into.

Institutional racism lies at the very heart of the callous murder of Black people like Laquan McDonald at the hands of police officers. These atrocities are not “isolated incidents” being perpetrated by “bad apples.”  No one can deny the pattern, the uniformity, pervasiveness and persistence nationally.

American policing, especially with respect to the policing of Black America, is rotten to the core.

America’s police policies have always been rooted in controlling the bodies of Black people—and is an extension of institutional racism’s main objective: to prevent the masses of Black people from upward mobility in American society. Individual Blacks will be allowed to economically advance in White American society—but certainly the vast majority must remain mired in jobless, homelessness and economic subjugation.

To justify this, the continued criminalization of a large percentage of Black America, especially Black males, is imperative. That's why the establishment turns a blind eye to police coverups.

The officers knowing the political establishment have their back kill with impunity.

With unemployment in the African American community always double that of the White population --with or without recession-- many Black people find themselves into compromising positions where they become engaged in criminal activities like drug dealing just to survive.

Racial policing amounts to war against Black America. This is why in spite of all the murders and atrocities that we’ve seen since the police killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and of Eric Garner in New York,  politicians continue to twiddle their thumbs while Black people continue to lose their lives.

Congress’ silence on this matter illustrates the disregard they have for the lives of Black people.

The American political establishment must be pressured to dismantle the racist nature of police departments. The Black Lives Matter Movement has been instrumental in keeping the topic of racist policing in the public light.

Much more must be done if we are to attain the objective of changing the way police departments operate.

During the Civil Rights Era, the use of the economic boycott was one strategy that was utilized.

Economic boycotts must target those who support police groups like the Police Benevolent Association?

The power of money has impact as we recently saw with protests that slowed down shopping in downtown Chicago.

That also must have influenced Mayor Emanuel's decision to apologize.

 

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