CHICAGO (CBS) — The release of the Justice Department’s report is the latest chapter in a firestorm around Chicago policing that once seemed to threaten Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s political career.
This is a critical moment for the mayor, as well as for the city. After accepting a scathing federal report about widespread Chicago police abuse, Emanuel pledged to work with the feds to solidify reform.
“We have chosen this path because this path of progress is in our self interest to make these changes,” Emanuel said.
Just over a year ago, angry Black Friday demonstrators packed Michigan Avenue to protest the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, but also alleging that City Hall and county prosecutors withheld the video.
“We still believe Rahm Emanuel covered up the Laquan McDonald tape,” says community activist William Calloway. “We will always believe that. We believe that he should be charged with obstruction of justice or official misconduct.”
With his political fortunes at low ebb, Emanuel took steps to mount a comeback. He fired police superintendent Garry McCarthy and embraced many of the reforms demanded by a citizens committee. And Lori Lightfoot, who’s on the Chicago Police Board, said she is going to take the mayor at his word.
Details in the federal report came as no surprise to civil-rights activists.
Greater St. John Bible Church Rev. Ira Acree said that there has been excessive abuse on the South and West sides for minorities.
“We just have to make sure we hold Rahm Emanuel’s feet to the fire and hold him accountable,” Calloway says.
There is concern whether the Justice Department, under Donald Trump, will push for court oversight of Chicago police. But the mayor’s future may depend on him implementing most suggestions, at the risk of reigniting political dissent.