Rahm Emanuel has said the right things in public about the Laquan McDonald travesty, even if behind closed doors he’s been a force for something less than total justice. The reported details of a series of meetings Emanuel had with a number of black civic leaders from Chicago’s South Side prior to the release of the dashcam footage won’t do much to shore up his image among Chicagoans.
According to a story in a local newsletter called Aldertrack, as flagged by Ratter, Emanuel held a series of meetings at City Hall with, as reporter Mike Fourcher puts it, “youth leaders, Black clergy and members of the City Council Black Caucus.” The ostensible point of the meetings was to assuage fears among Chicago’s black residents about how the city had handled the case, but for Emanuel they seemed to have one other purpose: to warn the leaders who represent those residents that there would be repercussions if protests got out of control.
Forucher reports that several people attending the meeting of clergy personnel threatened to withhold money for jobs programs in the city’s primarily black South Side if the McDonald protests became violent. Via Aldertrack:
The Mayor then asked the group to stress peaceful protest through the Thanksgiving weekend and to avoid violence.
“He encouraged us to encourage the community to exercise their first amendment rights, but to do so peacefully,” said Rev. Barrett. “The point of the meeting was how to encourage that peaceful protest.”
According to attendees, the Mayor then told the group that if there was violence over the weekend, he would not be able to find resources to bring jobs into their community.
“He said, if things go bad then don’t come looking to me for jobs,” said Rev. Brooks.
“There was something about how if you don’t encourage peace, don’t look to me for resources,” said Young Leaders Alliance head Jedidiah Brown, who was also present.
Per Fourcher, when clergy members expressed offense at Emanuel’s insinuation, he attempted to calm them down by further clarifying what he says he meant:
The Mayor then backtracked, according to Brooks and others. “He said that what he meant was that resources he’d use to get jobs [would have to be] use[d] to clean up the city of Chicago,” following violent protests.
Chicago is a major city. It has plenty of cash—it pays obscene amounts of money in overtime pay every year, for instance. If Emanuel needed to “clean up” the city because of riots over one of its police officers killing a teenager, he wouldn’t need to divert money currently marked for jobs for those most in need of them.
That is, unless he just wanted to be a vindictive asshole, and if Rahm Emanuel is anything, it’s a vindictive asshole. Being a vindictive asshole has gotten him very far in politics. Though if he isn’t careful, it may soon be his downfall.