Election 2020

As Hillary Tries to Woo Civil-Rights Voters, Scandal Brews for Ally Rahm Emanuel

Three months ago, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel boldly declared that Hillary Clinton “will be the president of the United States.”

He endorsed her candidacy in May 2014 and appeared with her — complete with a big hug — the next month. Clinton has been enjoying the bundling efforts of Emanuel donors, and Emanuel knew as early as 2009 that Secretary of State Clinton was using private email for official correspondence.

Now faced with what could be a big Rahm scandal, Hillary chose her words of condemnation carefully over the release of a video showing a Chicago Police officer unloading his gun on a 17-year-old.

The officer who shot Laquan McDonald, Jason Van Dyke, has been released from the department and was charged this week with first-degree murder. Emanuel urged calm before the release of the graphic dash-cam video, which shows McDonald, holding a pocketknife as he’d reportedly just slashed the tires of a squad car. The teen was walking away from officers, down the street on a diagonal trajectory toward an empty sidewalk, as Van Dyke fired from 10 to 15 feet away.

The shot takes the teen down to the pavement, where the officer fires the rest of his bullets. McDonald was shot 16 times.

The Chicago government is under fire for taking 13 months to file charges against the officer, even with the video evidence. A lawsuit was filed by a freelance journalist to order the release of video. And the charges were only announced at the deadline set by a judge for the video’s release.

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass noted that McDonald was shot in October 2014, and Emanuel was vying for re-election in the February 2015 vote.

“Rahm sat on the video, and kept sitting on it, all the way through his re-election, as black ministers and other African-American political figures rallied to his side to get out the black vote and deny that vote to Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia,” Kass wrote. “If the video had come out during the election campaign, Rahm Emanuel would not be mayor today.”

Clinton said in a statement this afternoon that “the family of Laquan McDonald and the people of Chicago deserve justice and accountability.”

“As criminal charges proceed in this case, we also have to grapple as a country with broader questions about ensuring that all our citizens and communities are protected and respected,” she said.

Clinton — who has been protested by Black Lives Matter activists since a testy exchange with members of the group in August — pivoted to a meeting she had early this month with the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice.

“The mothers I met recently in Chicago are right: we cannot go on like this,” she continued. “All over America, there are police officers honorably doing their duty, demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from and build on those examples.”

“The loss of so many young African-Americans taken too soon should reaffirm our commitment to press forward for progress.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was in Atlanta this week getting an endorsement from rapper and activist Killer Mike.

“All Americans should be sickened by the video of Laquan McDonald’s murder. As a nation we must do more than just echo the phrase Black Lives Matter,” Sanders said after Clinton’s campaign released her statement. “We must put actions behind those words. Actions that will bring about the fundamental reform that is needed in the face of this crisis.”

“Criminal justice reform must be the civil rights issue of the 21st century and the first piece must be putting an end to the killing of African Americans by police officers.”