Earlier this week, Rahm Emanuel got mad, really mad. He got television mad. Upset about the felony charges being dropped against Jussie Smollet, Mayor Rahm held a press conference where he called the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office decision to drop the charges a “whitewash of justice.” He told reporters he was defending the city’s reputation. The next day he went on to say how he believes Jussie should pay the city $130,000, the cost of the CPD’s investigation into the allegedly false allegations.
I won’t address what Jussie did or didn’t do. Beyond the difficulty he may have created for others who allege hate crimes, I really don’t care.
I’m more interested in the outraged reactions of Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel.
But first, a bit of Chicago history for those unaware. The City of Chicago is largely segregated. City resources, money and white people live on the North Side while on the South and West Sides largely live people of color, where there isn’t nearly as much money, resources, jobs or even grocery stores. It’s a big problem here (policing, education and opportunity, housing and sustainability) and if so interested, a great book about all of this and why it came to be: The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation by Natalie Y. Moore.
Some historical context though, for Rahm’s outrage over injustice:
In 2014, Laquan McDonald was murdered by the Chicago Police Department. Internal police reports ruled that the shooting by Officer Jason Van Dyke was justified. Then in 2015, after the city and the mayor’s office fought against the release of dashcam footage for thirteen months, the video was finally released to the public by court order. The video contradicted the police report, showed Laquan moving away from police when he was executed and on the same day the video was released, Officer Van Dyke was arrested. It should also be noted that while Rahm and the city were fighting to keep the footage out of the public eye, Rahm ran for reelection and won.
Laquan McDonald was murdered on the South Side of the city.
Also In 2015, The Guardian reported on Homan Square in Chicago where a building, referred to as a ‘black site,’ was being used by the Chicago Police Department. In this building, torture technique were allegedly commonplace in interrogations of black and brown people. Attorneys were not present. The press were kept out. Largely beyond those personally involved or affected, citizens of Chicago were unaware this place even existed or what was going on inside its walls. Mayor Rahm insisted “we follow all the rules,” contrary to published reports from those who suffered.
Homan Square is on the South Side of the city.
Also in 2015, in the West Garfield Park neighborhood lived Betty Jones, a grandmother of 10 who was killed by Chicago Police just after Christmas. A domestic disturbance occurred in the multi-family building involving Quintonio LeGreer, who according to his parents was suffering from “mental problems.” He had a bat, and when the police arrived Bettie Jones opened the door. The police officer thought Legreer “lunged” at him. Betty was shot and killed by the police.
This was on the West Side of the City.
It should come as no surprise that civil suits are filed against the Chicago Police Department on a regular basis, alleging police brutality, and many of them are successful. Enough so that in 2019, the consent decree to overhaul the Chicago Police Department began, open ended, until a federal judge and independent monitor are satisfied the police force has changed their ways.
But according to Rahm, Jussie’s the problem here.
The police have brutalized Chicago citizens throughout Rahm Emanuel’s mayor-ship and it took the Laquan McDonald tape to bring in the Feds, but Rahm wants to talk about justice. He has disproportionately laid off city workers on the South Side, where he has also closed over fifty schools and several mental health clinics, much needed resources for the neighborhoods they served. Rahm says he wants to stick up for the reputation of Chicago, but it’s difficult to take his outrage seriously and even more difficult to not meet it’s selectivity in turn. Did Jussie make it all up, or didn’t he? I don’t know. It would seem he did. Worse however is Rahm’s whitewashing of justice for the past 8 years, and all the lives and neighborhoods affected.
Jussie Smollet can keep his $130,000.
I’m far more concerned about costs prohibitively more expensive to both this city’s financials and any sense of right and wrong.
The legal costs for Rahm to keep the dashcam video hidden for thirteen months while he won reelection: $5,000,000. The costs in settlements to victims of police brutality in Chicago for only the year 2018: $50,000,000.
Have a nice day.