A congressional ally of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel defended the mayor against calls for his resignation even as activists note the possible links between withholding a gruesome police shooting video and Emanuel’s re-election campaign.
Last week, under court order, the city released the dash-cam video showing Laquan McDonald, 17, being shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke, who was just fired from the Chicago Police Department and charged with first-degree murder. McDonald was shot in October 2014, and Emanuel faced re-election in February 2015.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) was against Emanuel in 2011, but the foes became allies and by the time the mayor’s re-election rolled around Gutierrez was a co-chairman of the campaign.
Today, Gutierrez said Emanuel has no need to resign because he formed a committee to study when’s a good time to release police videos.
The congressman talked to MSNBC after Emanuel sacked his police superintendent, Gary McCarthy.
“I wake up every morning trying to figure out how I keep the country safe. I’m sure the mayor wakes up trying to figure out how to keep the city safe,” Gutierrez said. “…I think the trust between the public and the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department has been broken and it needs to be rebuilt. And I think the first step is taking that step and finding a new police superintendent in the city of Chicago.”
“McCarthy may have reduced the crime statistics but not the level of trust, which is necessary to exist between the people of the city of Chicago, so I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Gutierrez said he also no longer supports Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. “I think the world of Anita Alvarez on a personal level but I think she let Laquan McDonald down,” he said.
But Rahm still has his backing.
Asked today about calls for his resignation, Emanuel told reporters, “I think I’m doing my job. And I try to do it every day and do it in a professional way.”
The mayor’s office today announced the Task Force on Police Accountability to “recommend reforms to the current system to improve independent oversight of police misconduct, ensure officers with repeated complaints are identified and evaluated appropriately, and establish best practice for release of videos of police-involved incidents.”
“The shooting of Laquan McDonald requires more than just words,” Emanuel said in a statement. “It requires that we act; that we take more concrete steps to prevent such abuses in the future, secure the safety and the rights of all Chicagoans, and build stronger bonds of trust between our police and the communities they’re sworn to serve.”
Gutierrez said Emanuel “did the right thing.”
“I think we shouldn’t simply step as though putting together a commission is something that isn’t going to be doing something. Let’s wait,” he encouraged. “Part of what the mayor has encouraged and trusted and empaneled the commission to do is to look at when it is that you release these kinds of tapes, how quickly you can release them, how more transparent — look.”
“We have a problem which exploded on the national scene because of the murder of this 17-year-old black youth at the hands of Chicago police officers. But there is much more that occurs in the city of Chicago that had occurred in the past. There are great Chicago police officers who every day go out there to serve and to protect me and all of the rest of the citizens of the city of Chicago. But you know what? The good police officers have to stand up to the bad police officers. If we’re going to have a police force that’s going to merit the respect and it’s going to have the integrity which is essential, if we’re going to move forward.”
Guiterrez also encouraged Justice Department investigation “because, obviously, the police commissioner and the state’s attorney’s office let us down.”
Asked if there was a cover-up, the congressman’s connection with the network dropped out.