By Paul Street
Beneath a carefully constructed pretense of concern for racial justice, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has long been a dedicated corporatist “law and order” enemy of Black America. During his time as a top political operative in the arch-neoliberal Bill Clinton White House, the notorious bully Emmanuel (later to be nicknamed “Rahmbo”) was a driving force behind the 1994 federal “three strikes” Clinton crime bill.
That draconian measure helped make Bill Clinton “the incarceration president” and contributed to a significant increase in the monumental hyper-imprisonment and criminal marking of Black Americans. Among other terrible things, the law put 100,000 more officers on the streets, allocated $10 billion for new prison construction, and eliminated Pell Grant funding for inmates pursuing college degrees while in prison.
Prior to that outrage, Emmanuel joined up with Bill Daley to lead Clinton’s passage of the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) – a critical investor rights measure that helped capital drain millions of jobs away from industrial regions where impoverished Black populations desperately needed paid employment.
NAFTA-encouraged deindustrialization notwithstanding, Emmanuel was a leading force behind Clinton’s vicious 1996 “welfare reform.” The “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act’s” elimination of poor families’ former entitlement to basic family cash assistance has wreaked havoc on Black families stuck in jobless ghettoes ever since.
As Barack Obama’s original White House chief of staff, Emmanuel consistently steered policy rightward, towards the interests of the nation’s predominantly white 1% and contrary to those of America’s disproportionately nonwhite lower and working class.
As Mayor of Chicago, Emmanuel moved quickly to shutter 54 public schools in low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods in the largest deliberate mass school closure in history. Emmanuel’s schools chief provided principals with a guide on “how to handle civil disobedience and to report the names of any teachers and students involved in protests.” The schools closure program has always been a big taxpayer money grab for wealthy Emmanuel allies seeking to build private charter schools in the wreckage left by public school closings.
Emmanuel has stonewalled on numerous abusive and criminal practices on the part of his city’s police force. He flatly denied the Chicago Police Department’s operation of an illegal “black site” detention facility (Homan Square) where thousands of mostly Black and Latino suspects have been “disappeared” and forced into false confessions. The Black Site hellhole was exposed by The Guardian earlier this year. Its existence was well known across Black and Latino Chicago.
Sadly enough, Emanuel has won solid majorities of the Black Chicago vote in both of his Chicago mayoral election victories to date (in April 2011 and April 2015). As the left Black commentator Bruce Dixon noted last spring, “Rahm Emanuel’s biggest asset was the overwhelming support of Chicago’s well-established black political class of preachers, business types, ‘community leaders’ and public officials….Nearly every prominent black elected official in town, Democrats all, came out for Rahm, for privatization, for gentrification, for austerity, for more of the same. This is the state of black politics in 2015, and the reason that Rahm Emanuel carried every single one of Chicago’s majority black wards.”
The facts of the Laquan McDonald case are well understood by now. Anyone who follows the national news closely knows that:
* The City of Chicago rushed to offer McDonald’s mother $5 million on the condition that she stay silent.
Ron Carter, Publisher and Editor,773-595-5229.