Tags: Chicago | Mayor | Rahm Emanuel | vacation | police shooting

Pressured Chicago Mayor Cuts Cuban Vacation Short After Police Shooting

Image: Pressured Chicago Mayor Cuts Cuban Vacation Short After Police Shooting

Monday, 28 Dec 2015 06:14 PM

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Monday he was cutting short his family vacation in Cuba to address the fatal shooting of two more black residents by a city police department already under federal investigation over its use of deadly force.

Critics said Emanuel was due to return from vacation anyway, and one Illinois lawmaker, who is trying to pass a law that would allow voters to recall a mayor in the state, questioned his credibility. The mayor's office declined to say when Emanuel had originally planned to return.

Protests calling for the resignation of Emanuel - mayor of the third largest U.S. city - began in November after the release of a video showing a fatal police shooting of a black teen that belied the official police account that he had lunged at police with a knife.

In the first fatal Chicago police shootings since that video was released, Bettie Jones, 55, and college student Quintonio LeGrier, 19, were both killed early on Saturday. Police said Jones was killed by accident during the altercation with LeGrier.

A fresh protest on police issues, and to call for Rahm to resign, is planned at City Hall on Thursday.

Illinois state Representative La Shawn Ford, who is pushing legislation to permit a mayoral recall, asked why City Hall was not making clear details of Emanuel's itinerary. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the trip was supposed to be 10 days, ending on Tuesday.

"We're talking about trust and believability," said Ford, a Chicago Democrat. "You don't want to pretend you cut your trip short if you were scheduled to be back anyway."

Emanuel's spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said he was set to arrive in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon. She said he left for Cuba on Dec. 18, but did not respond to questions about when he had planned to return.

"He is cutting his family trip short so that he can continue the ongoing work of restoring accountability and trust in the Chicago Police Department," she said.

Ford said the main question now was how the mayor intends to rebuild trust between Chicago residents and what critics regard as a trigger-happy police force.

"He should be at every police district, meeting with every officer in this city and letting them know where he stands on brutality and misconduct by the police," said Ford.

 

SEEKING VIDEO

High-profile killings of black men by police officers since mid-2014 have triggered waves of protest across the country and fueled a civil rights movement under the name Black Lives Matter.

In the latest controversial development, a grand jury on Monday cleared two Cleveland police officers in the November 2014 fatal shooting of a black 12-year-old who was brandishing a toy gun in a park.

Regarding the latest Chicago shootings on Saturday, police said that LeGrier, the 19-year-old, was being combative, but have admitted that Jones, who lived on the first-floor of the building, was shot by accident and offered condolences.

LeGrier's family said he had mental health issues and that his father called the police early in the morning because his son had threatened him with a metal baseball bat.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Monday he did not know if there was video of the shooting.

Attorney Larry Rogers Jr., representing the family of Jones, the woman who was killed, said at a prayer vigil on Sunday that there may be a video from a house under construction across the street, and that police footage may exist.

Protests over the shooting of Laquan McDonald - the teenager killed in October 2014 in the recently released video - led to the resignation of the city's police chief and the start of a U.S. Department of Justice probe into whether the city's police use lethal force too often, especially against minorities.

Emanuel, previously U.S. President Barack Obama's White House chief of staff, became Chicago's mayor in 2011 and was re-elected earlier this year in a run-off. He was already facing pressure over high crime and gang violence in parts of the city and had been criticized for closing 50 public schools in mostly minority areas. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Monday he would cut his family vacation in Cuba short to address the fatal shooting of two more black residents by a city police department already under federal investigation over its use of deadly force. 

The decision comes after activists stepped up calls for Emanuel's resignation over his handling of policing in the nation's third-largest city. A protest is planned at City Hall on Thursday.

"While Mayor Emanuel has been in constant contact with his staff and Interim Superintendent (John) Escalante, he is cutting his family trip short so that he can continue the ongoing work of restoring accountability and trust in the Chicago Police Department," said the mayor's spokeswoman, Kelley Quinn.

Emanuel is set to arrive back in Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, she said. The mayor's office did not say when he left for Cuba or when he had been scheduled to return.

The latest police shootings killed Bettie Jones, 55, and college student Quintonio LeGrier, 19. Family members said police were called after LeGrier, who had mental health issues, threatened his father with a metal baseball bat.

Jones' family is expected to seek video footage of the shootings, which occurred early on Saturday, if any exists, in an attempt to get a clearer picture of what happened, according to its attorney.

The release of a Chicago police video last month of the fatal shooting of a black teenager, which had been withheld for more than a year, led to the resignation of the city's police chief and the start of a U.S. Department of Justice probe into whether the city's police use lethal force too often, especially against minorities.

High-profile killings of black men by police officers since mid-2014 have triggered waves of protest, including in Chicago, and fueled a civil rights movement under the name Black Lives Matter. On Monday a grand jury cleared two Cleveland police officers in the November 2014 fatal shooting of black 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was brandishing a toy gun in a park.

Emanuel called Jones' family to offer his sympathy, according to Ja'Mal Green, an activist and protest organizer in Chicago. But he said Emanuel should resign and his return will not help problems in the city's social and justice systems.

"Here or not, you know, is still like him not here," Green said.

The embattled mayor issued a statement on Sunday calling for a review of the police Crisis Intervention Team and better guidance for officers when dealing with mental health cases.

"There are serious questions about yesterday's shootings that must be answered in full by the Independent Police Review Authority's investigation," his statement said.

Regarding the latest shootings, police said LeGrier was being combative, but have admitted that Jones, who lived on the first-floor of the building, was shot by accident and offered condolences.

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Monday he did not know if there was video of the shooting.

However, attorney Larry Rogers Jr., representing Jones' family, said at a prayer vigil on Sunday that there may be a video from a house under construction across the street, and that police footage may exist.

The previous killing of 17-year-old black teen Laquan McDonald in October 2014, which was captured on video released last month, led to multiple protests and calls for Emanuel's resignation.

Emanuel, previously U.S. President Barack Obama's White House chief of staff, became Chicago's mayor in 2011 and was re-elected earlier this year in a run-off. He was already facing pressure over high crime and gang violence in parts of the city and had been criticized for closing 50 public schools in mostly minority areas.

Calls for his resignation started with the release of the McDonald video last month.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton said Emanuel should step down in an interview on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' program on Monday, before Emanuel said he was returning.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, under increasing pressure for the police department's use of deadly force after the fatal shooting of two black citizens over the weekend, said on Monday he would cut his family vacation to Cuba short to return to the city.
Chicago, Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, vacation, police shooting
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2015-14-28
Monday, 28 Dec 2015 06:14 PM
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