Emanuel apologizes for Laquan McDonald police shooting, tries to reset how he’s handled biggest crisis of his tenure

Mayor Rahm Emanuel stood in front of the Chicago City Council on Wednesday and gave a very unwavering as well as an emotional speech. He pledged to finally end Chicago’s entrenched practice of police brutality and apologized for failing to fix the deep-seated issue sooner.

“I’m sorry” the words came in a 40-minute speech meant to “lay out a path to restoring trust” in the Police Department amid the fallout over the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white Chicago cop in October 2014. The city has been in a chaos ever since the release of a police dash-cam video that shows Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald in the back and continuing to fire 16 shots in all after McDonald falls to the ground. Chicagoans are furious about those graphic images, about the city’s long fight to keep the video secret, about the 13 months that advanced prior to the officer being charged with first-degree murder.

“We are here today because Chicago is facing a defining moment on the issues of crime and policing, and the even larger issues of truth, justice and race,” Emanuel said at the start of his speech in a quiet City Council chamber. “We can either be defined by what we have failed to do or what we choose to do. I take responsibility for what happened because it happened on my watch,” Emanuel said. “But if we’re also going to begin the healing process, the first step in that journey is my step, and I’m sorry.” Emanuel didn’t say he was sorry his efforts to contain the political damage had left Chicagoans with the perfectly understandable impression that he’d placed his interests ahead of theirs. Time and again, Chicago’s leaders have faced a crisis, promised reforms, and then done the contrary.


Emanuel has designated a task force to determine how to revamp and restructure the police oversight system, to limit the use of lethal force, to improve transparency and community engagement However, the mayor completely avoided to discuss and talk about the circumstances of how he has managed the controversy, he focused more towards demonstrating his hope that the city can make a new start. “This is not the Chicago we know and love. This is not the police department we believe in and trust to protect our families and our neighborhoods. This is not who we are. And this will not stand.”

“Nothing, nothing can excuse what happened to Laquan McDonald,” Emanuel said. “Our city has been down this road before. We have seen fatal police shootings and other forms of abuse and corruption. We took corrective measures, but those measures never measured up to the challenge.” Emanuel sought to frame Wednesday’s meeting as “a defining moment on the issues of crime and policing and the even larger issues of truth, justice and race.”

“Sorry isn’t going to bring those kids back,” said Espindola, 28, who lives in Pilsen. “All (Emanuel) is doing is talking. Now he’s doing it because everyone’s paying attention.” Protesters gathered and filled around City Hall, through the financial district and up Michigan Avenue “We don’t want your apology!” they shouted. “We want your resignation!”

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