CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel has canceled plans to travel to Paris Wednesday night for a climate change summit.
During an interview with Politico on Wednesday, the mayor said he will not go to Paris so he can remain “front and center” in Chicago amid continuing public unrest in the wake of the scandal over the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Last week, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in McDonald’s death. Hours later, the city released police dashboard camera video showing Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times as the teen was walking away from officers on Oct. 20, 2014. The charges and the release of the video sparked a series of protests across the city, and ultimately led to Emanuel’s decision to fire Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.
The mayor defended McCarthy’s record as the city’s top cop, but said public trust in the Chicago Police Department “has been shaken and eroded,” and that it was time for new leadership to restore that trust.
Emanuel said climate change is an important issue, as is showing solidarity with Paris in the wake of the terrorist attacks there, but he said it’s more important to be in Chicago to focus on pressing matters surrounding the Police Department.
Sources said as early as Tuesday morning – before Emanuel asked for McCarthy’s resignation – that the mayor might change his plans to travel to Paris. He still hoped to go for a mayors’ meeting on Friday, but that was ruled out Wednesday morning.
“This is a challenging time for the city, and as I said, it needs sustained effort,” he said. “Part of that effort requires the mayor to be present.”
There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide Wednesday morning at a previously scheduled Politico breakfast event, where he faced a flurry of questions, including whether he should step down.
Emanuel said he has not considered resigning, despite calls from protesters that he resign in the aftermath of McDonald case.
Asked why he hasn’t considered resigning, Emanuel quipped, “I really so much looked forward to this interview, and I wanted to have it.”
Since so much of what has happened at City Hall in the past 10 days has involved timing – of the charges against Van Dyke, and the release of the video – Emanuel was asked why he stuck with McCarthy for so long.
“He has made real progress, and I have a lot of loyalty to the work and to what he’s done,” he said.
The mayor patiently answered all questions, although he was clearly annoyed when asked whether, in addition to Paris, he also would cancel his annual holiday trip with his family.
“Amy and I, as parents, make a decision every year to take our children to see other parts of the world. It’s something my parents did with me,” he said. “I think it’s not only great family time, but most importantly it’s a great family time where they don’t have to share me as a mayor, but they get to have me totally a hundred percent as their father.”
Emanuel never announces ahead of time where he’s going on his family trips, and was angry about revealing details of what he considered a private conversation before the Politico interview, but he clearly intends to go forward with a family trip to Cuba, unlike his now canceled trip to Paris.