Rahm Emanuel Toughs It Out in Political ‘Hell’


In recent days, the political establishment here has attempted to drum home a message to the citizens of the Second City: Rahm Emanuel isn’t going anywhere. 

To be sure, the persistent calls for the embattled mayor’s resignation — which began more than six weeks ago over his decision to keep a disturbing video of a police officer shooting a black teen 16 times under wraps for more than a year — aren’t abating. The Chicago Teachers Union, which has long had a contentious relationship with Emanuel and is threatening to strike, last week formally called on the mayor to step down.

Anger with Emanuel, whose approval rating stood at 18% in a poll conducted last month, surged only after Chicago Police said an officer accidentally fatally wounded a grandmother of nine over Christmas weekend when shooting at her 19-year-old neighbor who had become “combative” with police during a domestic dispute.

Meanwhile, the FBI confirmed on Sunday that it was probing a 2013 police shooting in which Chicago officers fatally shot Esau Castellanos after a high-speed chase in the city. Police officer said they fired at Castellanos after he crashed his car. But no gun was ever recovered.

Emanuel’s administration faced more embarrassment last week after a federal judge ordered the retrial in a civil lawsuit over a 2011 fatal shooting by Chicago Police officers after determining that a city of Chicago lawyer deliberately withheld critical evidence from the attorney representing the slain man’s family. The city announced on Sunday that the mayor had tapped former U.S.attorney, Dan Webb, to conduct a review of standards and practices of the city law department in the aftermath of the incident.

Days after the Christmas weekend shooting of Bettie Jones, 55, and Quintonio LeGrier, about two dozen angry demonstrators brought their calls for Emanuel to resign to his home on the city’s North Side.

The audacity of such a protest by the mostly young and African-American demonstrators is something that would have been hard to imagine during the reign of Emanuel’s predecessor, Richard M. Daley, who ruled the city with and iron fist and the backing of a rubber-stamp City Council for more than 22 years.

But while Emanuel may be under siege, the establishment is standing by his side.

On Sunday, Emanuel got a vote of confidence from the White House’s chief of staff Denis McDonough, who said the president remains confident in Emanuel.

“I just had a chance to be back in Chicago, actually, my in-laws live in Chicago and I tell you, the city looks great, the opportunities there are boundless,” McDonough said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “And so, I think what the president sees is a city and people of Chicago and a mayor of Chicago that continue to do very good work.”

On Wednesday, Sen. Dick Durbin, the state’s senior senator, offered a sympathetic take on Emanuel’s plight, noting that distrust of the Chicago Police Department in the African-American community dates back well before Emanuel, a former chief of staff to President Obama and U.S. congressman, became mayor of the city in 2011.

“I’m not going to stand in judgment of any single incident that the mayor was involved in,” Durbin told reporters. “But I will say this: My conversations with him in the last several weeks tell me he’s focused on making the changes that will bring this city back together again.”

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Source: USA Today |  Aamer Madhani