[News] Rahm Emmanuel, Laquan McDonald and Black Rebellion in Chicago

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 4 11:36:33 EST 2015

December 4, 2015

  Rahm Emmanuel, Laquan McDonald and Black Rebellion in Chicago

by Paul Street <http://www.counterpunch.org/author/paul-street/>


Beneath a carefully constructed pretense of concern for racial justice, 
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has long been a dedicated corporatist “law 
and order” enemy of Black America. During his time as a top political 
operative in the arch-neoliberal Bill Clinton White House, the notorious 
bully Emmanuel (later to be nicknamed “Rahmbo”) was a driving force 
behind the 1994 federal “three strikes” Clinton crime bill.

That draconian measure helped make Bill Clinton “the incarceration 
president” and contributed to a significant increase in the monumental 
hyper-imprisonment and criminal marking of Black Americans. Among other 
terrible things, the law put 100,000 more officers on the streets, 
allocated $10 billion for new prison construction, and eliminated Pell 
Grant funding for inmates pursuing college degrees while in prison.

Prior to that outrage, Emmanuel joined up with Bill Daley to lead 
Clinton’s passage of the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) – a 
critical investor rights measure that helped capital drain millions of 
jobs away from industrial regions where impoverished Black populations 
desperately needed paid employment.

NAFTA-encouraged deindustrialization notwithstanding, Emmanuel was a 
leading force behind Clinton’s vicious 1996 “welfare reform.” The 
“Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act’s” 
elimination of poor families’ former entitlement to basic family cash 
assistance has wreaked havoc on Black families stuck in jobless ghettoes 
ever since.

As Barack Obama’s original White House chief of staff, Emmanuel 
consistently steered policy rightward, towards the interests of the 
nation’s predominantly white 1% and contrary to those of America’s 
disproportionately nonwhite lower and working class.

As Mayor of Chicago, Emmanuel moved quickly to shutter 54 public schools 
in low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods in the largest deliberate 
mass school closure in history. Emmanuel’s schools chief provided 
principals with a guide on “how to handle civil disobedience and to 
report the names of any teachers and students involved in protests.” The 
schools closure program has always been a big taxpayer money grab for 
wealthy Emmanuel allies seeking to build private charter schools in the 
wreckage left by public school closings.

Emmanuel has stonewalled on numerous abusive and criminal practices on 
the part of his city’s police force. He flatly denied the Chicago Police 
Department’s operation of an illegal “black site” detention facility 
(Homan Square) where thousands of mostly Black and Latino suspects have 
been “disappeared” and forced into false confessions. The Black Site 
hellhole was exposed by /The Guardian/ earlier this year. Its existence 
was well known across Black and Latino Chicago.

Sadly enough, Emanuel has won solid majorities of the Black Chicago vote 
in both of his Chicago mayoral election victories to date (in April 2011 
and April 2015). As the left Black commentator Bruce Dixon noted last 
spring, “Rahm Emanuel’s biggest asset was the overwhelming support of 
Chicago’s well-established black political class of preachers, business 
types, ‘community leaders’ and public officials….Nearly every prominent 
black elected official in town, Democrats all, came out for Rahm, for 
privatization, for gentrification, for austerity, for more of the same. 
This is the state of black politics in 2015, and the reason that Rahm 
Emanuel carried every single one of Chicago’s majority black wards.”

The facts of the Laquan McDonald case are well understood by now. Anyone 
who follows the national news closely knows that:

    * White Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke executed a Black male
    teenager in cold blood on a busy street on the city’s South Side on
    October 20^th , 2014. Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times, riddling
    Laquan’s body with bullets while the victim lay in the pavement.

    * The Chicago Police lied about and covered up the murder, going so
    far as to threaten eyewitnesses with arrest and delete more than an
    hour of videotape from a fast food restaurant near the murder site.

    * The City of Chicago rushed to offer McDonald’s mother $5 million
    on the condition that she stay silent.

    * The city buried a dash cam video that clearly displayed the savage
    killing for thirteen months because Emmanuel feared its release
    would spark civil unrest (this during the ongoing protests over
    racist police murders in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere around the
    nation) that might endanger his re-election chances the following April.

    * The video might have never surfaced if lawyers and journalists had
    not been tipped off to its existence and but for the order of a
    county judge last week.

    * Emanuel, running for re-election at the time of the shooting,
    fought to keep the video from going public. He claimed that
    releasing it might taint a federal investigation even though the
    U.S. Justice Department did not ask the city to hold off.

    * Emmanuel demonstrated a complete lack of comprehension of the
    public’s outrage over the killing and its cover-up when he claimed
    this week that he decided to fire city police chief Garry McCarthy
    because he had become “a distraction” – not because McCarthy has for
    years overseen a police department notorious for racist abuse and

    * Emanuel’s arrogant response to the McDonald scandal has been to
    “do as little as possible — until the furor caused by the release of
    the video forced his hand.” (/New York Times/ editorial board).

The part of the emerging story that blows me away the most, however, is 
less well known. It concerns a meeting that Emmanuel held with Chicago’s 
leading Black ministers and pastors right before he finally released the 
Van Dyke murder video last week. As local reporter Mike Fourcher 
determined, the alleged purpose of this gathering and other meetings 
held with Black constituents was to assuage Black fears and anger about 
how City Hall had dealt with the case. When speaking to the ministers, 
however, Rahmbo had a different and more iron-fisted message for the 
city’s Black religious leaders. He /warned them that they’d pay if 
protests went too far. Da mare wanted the pastors to know that he would 
withhold money for jobs programs in the city’s Black ghettoes if 
violence ensued/. By Fourcher’s account:

    “The Mayor…asked the group to stress peaceful protest through the
    Thanksgiving weekend and to avoid violence. ‘He encouraged us to
    encourage the community to exercise their first amendment rights,
    but to do so peacefully,’ said Rev. Barrett. ‘The point of the
    meeting was how to encourage that peaceful protest.’ According to
    attendees, the Mayor then told the group that if there was violence
    over the weekend, he would not be able to find resources to bring
    jobs into their community. ‘He said, if things go bad then don’t
    come looking to me for jobs,’ said Rev. Brooks. ‘There was something
    about how if you don’t encourage peace, don’t look to me for
    resources,’ said Young Leaders Alliance head Jedidiah Brown, who was
    also present/.”/

It doesn’t get much more offensive than that. It takes real sociopathic 
chutzpah to bully normally obedient Black pastors like that after you 
have just been caught with your racist police-state pants down in 
hideous fashion. Curiously enough, Emmanuel seems to have at least 
momentarily lost the outward loyalties of the city’s Black bourgeois 
elite. As Glen Ford notes on /Black Agenda Report/, reflecting on mass, 
Black youth-led protests that took place last Friday in Chicago’s tony 
Michigan Avenue shopping district:

    “It seemed as if the protective shield of Black Misleadership Class
    collaboration that has for the last 30 years insulated white mayors
    from the wrath of Chicago’s outraged Black rank and file, had
    suddenly been stripped away. Black ministers joined militant youth
    in marching down the city’s ‘Magic Mile’ Michigan Avenue shopping
    district, demanding that heads roll for hiding video evidence in the
    death of 17 year-old Laquan McDonald, shot 16 times by Officer Jason
    Van Dyke. For 400 days, Cook County States Attorney Anita Alvarez
    refused to indict the cop, or release the police dashboard video of
    the shooting, or to explain why another critical video had
    apparently been destroyed. Alvarez finally bowed to pressure – and a
    court order – indicting the cop for first degree murder and
    releasing the death video….But the community’s rage could not be
    contained. The Black Caucus of Chicago’s Board of Aldermen demanded
    that Police Superintendent McCarthy resign. So did Rev. Jesse
    Jackson and even Bobby Rush, the sell-out Black Congressman who has
    been a dependable servant of the Emanuel administration. The
    strength of the movement in Chicago can be measured by the fact that
    so many elements of the Black collaborationist political class have
    been forced to take a stance in opposition to Mayor Emanuel and the
    white corporate forces that he represents, and ultimately to compel
    the mayor to fire his favorite cop.”

Soon, however, the misleaders can be expected to resume their normal 
role of collaboration with the city’s predominantly white and corporate 
masters. As Ford notes:

    “The young people that are soldiers of this struggle understand that
    movements are defined by their demands. In a joint statement
    by the Black Youth Project 100, We Charge Genocide, Assata’s
    Daughters, the #LetUsBreathe collective, and a Black Lives Matter
    chapter, they declared that ‘Indicting cops does not change the
    policies that promote the violence and trauma inherent in the
    Chicago Police Department.’ They want Rahm Emanuel’s resignation,
    too. The Black Youth Project also demands defunding of the Chicago
    police, and investment of those dollars in the Black community. They
    call for reparations for slavery, Jim Crow and mass Black
    incarceration; an end to all profit in the criminal justice system;
    a guaranteed income for all; a federal jobs program, and freedom
    from discrimination for all workers; and an end to displacement of
    Black people through gentrification…. These are demands for social
    transformation – demands that will put the young activists on a
    collision course with the Black Misleadership Class who are the
    first line of defense for the white ruling class, and who will soon
    close ranks in Chicago and elsewhere to try to stop this movement.”

The fight for racial justice in Chicago, as across the nation, requires 
rank and file class struggle within the Black community itself. The 
white, Latino, and Asian working class could learn from that.

/Paul Street will speak in Chicago twice next week. He will talk (with 
Bruce Dixon) on U.S. Imperialism and the 2016 Elections with the 
Illinois Coalition for Peace, Justice, and the Environment on Thursday 
December 10, 6:30 pm, Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn. He will speak on 
Rahm Emmanuel, Laquan Mcdonald and the Racist Mass Incarceration State 
at the Open University of the Left, Saturday, December 12, 2:30 pm at 
the Logan Square branch of the Chicago Public Library, 3030 West 
Fullerton (North Side). /

/*Paul Street’s* latest book is They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1612053270/counterpunchmaga> (Paradigm, 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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