He exemplifies a particularly loathsome breed of Democratic politician—the constantly triangulating, plutocrat-courting, privatizing so-called “centrist,” that so dominated the Bill Clinton years. Thanks in part to Rahm Emanuel, Clinton became known for his ability to "out Republican the Republicans." (Illustration by Ronald David Jackson)
The Chicago mayor's ties to a shocking police cover-up get stronger by the day. This should come as no surprise
By Jack Mirkinson
The scandal surrounding Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s grossly corrupt and negligent handling of police violence in his city keeps getting worse and worse.
Ever since Chicago was forced in November to release video showing the gruesome police killing of black teenager Laquan McDonald, Emanuel has been on a quest to save himself from being driven out of office. He has publicly shed tears over McDonald’s death and announced a raft of new measures intended to show that the Chicago Police Department is reforming itself.
Yet events, many of them of that same police department’s own making, continue to disrupt Emanuel’s plans to evade responsibility.
Emanuel’s proposed reforms actually came after yet another police scandal. As 2015 drew to a close, he decamped to Cuba, hoping for some rest and relaxation. He was forced to cut that vacation short when police killed two innocent black people—Quintonio LeGrier, a 19-year-old college student with a history of emotional instability, and his next-door neighbor, Bettie Jones, a 55-year old mother, grandmother, cancer survivor and activist. LeGrier was shot seven times. The CPD said it had “accidentally” killed Jones, and provided no more detail than that. The incident made a mockery of any notion that the department had changed since the McDonald crisis first hit. Emanuel announced his reforms—which, as Heather Digby Parton wrote at Salon, leave a great deal to be desired—some days later.
Then, earlier this week, it was announced that Chicago has paid reparations to 57 people who had been subjected to torture and abuse by the CPD in decades past—a reminder that the misdeeds of the department stretch back generations.
But it’s not just external actors making Emanuel’s grip on power more tenuous. There’s also increasing evidence of just how deeply involved he was in the response to the McDonald scandal. Like any half-intelligent post-Nixon politician would, Emanuel has taken assiduous care to ensure that no paper trail directly links him to the city’s 13-month effort to suppress the footage showing McDonald being slaughtered in the street. But a series of document dumps has shown that virtually everyone around him was focused on the issue, with an eye on Emanuel’s re-election campaign in early 2015.