Emanuel: ‘Chicago’s future is at stake’


Yam G-Jun

Emanuel: ‘Chicago’s future is at stake’

By Metro Reporter

Crime prevention, gun violence, economic opportunities and rebuilding relationships between the community and the Chicago Police Department were covered in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Sept. 22 “Public Safety Address” in which the mayor called on Chicago citizens to back his gun and violence prevention plans.

“This fight is for Chicago’s future because Chicago’s future is at stake,” Emanuel said.

During the speech, held at Malcolm X College, Emanuel discussed CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson’s two-year hiring plan, which will cost more than $100 million and allow CPD to add 970 new employees. There will be 516 police officers, 92 field training officers, 112 sergeants, 50 lieutenants and 200 detectives added to the city’s police force by the end of 2018.

Law enforcement is one of the city’s most valuable resources, according to Emanuel.

“[People want police officers] on the street who know and respect the residents. Officers need our support—it is essential to their effectiveness in our city,” Emanuel said.

The mayor also encouraged the city’s communities to help police in their effort against gun violence. Emanuel criticized the federal government on gun control issues and expressed frustration that people on the terrorist watch and no-fly lists are not restricted from purchasing a firearm. He called for assistance from the Illinois capital with this issue.

“We need Springfield to be part of the solution,” Emanuel said. 

The speech also introduced plans to provide job opportunities to disconnected youth. The city, according to the mayor, will partner with more than 50 businesses, including the Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership, to give more than 2,000 out-of-school and out-of-work youth jobs. Emanuel said jobs are a deterrent to gang affiliation and provide a path to a better future.

“We must reach out to children and provide them with models and mentors … They get a yes to their future,” Emanuel said.

Xavier Ramey, a speech attendee and senior assistant director for social innovation at the University of Chicago Community Service Center, said he thought the address had more detail than he expected. However, he said Emanuel did not cover the issues properly.

On Emanuel’s plan to help lower income communities, Ramey said “It’s the wrong strategy.”

Ramey said Emanuel’s job program is not aimed at the heart of the problems. He agrees that a lack of opportunity for impressionable youth are at the root of crime, but the weight of the resources put toward it are not enough.

“You can not fight war with guns, with badges, with bars—you can’t do it,” Ramey said.

Groups of protesters who gathered outside the gymnasium said Emanuel is ignoring demands for civilian oversight of police.

Protester and freelance photographer Jennifer Gaudreau said she went to advocate for social justice, police accountability and learn about the Civilian Police Accountability Council. CPAC is an initiative created by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression that calls for elected members from the city’s 22 police districts to oversee Chicago’s police accountability system.

Ashley La Fleur, an event planner, said she came to protest in order to speak out against social injustice. 

La Fleur said she is also concerned about the disbursement of resources toward hiring more police officers rather than helping Chicago schools.

“I question how we could be closing schools but have the money to hire more than 500 new police officers,” La Fleur said.

While doubters and critics questioned the speeches content, Emanuel said he thinks his proposed initiatives will end the uptick of crime in Chicago.

“It is not beyond our ability to solve,” Emanuel said.