Rahm Emanuel's Comments On Laquan McDonald Video Speak Volumes, But His Actions Say Something Else Entirely
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Chief Garry McCarthy on Tuesday held a press conference prior to the release of a dash cam video reportedly showing a white officer shooting a 17-year-old black teenager. Rahm Emanuel's comments on the Laquan McDonald video speak volumes, but so do his questionable actions following the press conference.
The nearly seven minutes of footage was recorded the night of Oct. 24, 2014, and shows McDonald being pursued by officers before being shot 16 times by officer Jason Van Dyke. Emanuel condemned the actions of the former officer, who had been placed in a limited duty position following the incident and is no longer being paid by the Chicago Police Department. The Chicago mayor had this to say about the actions of Van Dyke as well as the public's response:
Jason Van Dyke violated both the standards of professionalism that come with being a police officer but also basic moral standards that bind our community together... I understand that people will be upset and want to protest when they see this video, but I would like to echo the comments of the McDonald family. They’ve asked for calm, and for those who choose to speak out, to do it peacefully. They said they did not want violence to be resorted in Laquan's name but to let his legacy be better than that.
Emanuel concluded his remarks by issuing a call to action to his fellow Chicagoans, requesting peaceful unity during a difficult time of widespread grief and frustration. "We have a collective responsibility in the city of Chicago, the city we love, to ensure that this opportunity for healing begins now," the mayor said, before thanking community leaders for the important roles they continue to play as this investigation continues. Religious and community leaders were some of the first people that Emanuel spoke with regarding the release of the dash cam footage, holding a brief conference call with important Chicago figures on Monday. During that discussion, Emanuel described the incident as "profoundly hideous" despite admitting that he hadn't viewed the video.
But demonstrators have criticized Emanuel for not watching the footage in addition to calling him out for reportedly attending the city's annual tree-lighting ceremony shortly after the press conference had concluded. The move has been seen as callous and tone deaf, almost counter-intuitive to his remarks about how much the incident had impacted him. As much as Emanuel's impassioned speech may mean to McDonald's surviving family and the city of Chicago, his actions speak even louder. Protests have indeed sprung up around Chicago following the video's release to the public on Tuesday night.