Oct 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rage over Rahm

Rahm Emanuel is seen while providing political analysis for ABC News.

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images

Progressive activists in Chicago — led by Democratic congressional candidate Kina Collins — are planning two days of demonstrations in the city around Rahm Emanuel's hearing to be U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Why it matters: The protests are the latest example of the tension between the Democratic Party's progressive and centrist wings. While Collins and others want the White House to retract Emanuel's nomination, there's no indication he won't be confirmed.

What they're saying: "We can't say 'Black Lives Matter' and plan to 'Build Back Better' by appointing the man who covered up a police murder by rewarding him and giving him a cushy job as an ambassador," Collins told Axios during a phone interview on Monday.

  • She's a Justice Democrats-backed challenger running against longtime incumbent Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.).
  • Emanuel supporters released a letter from Black Chicago City Council leaders highlighting his achievements as mayor.
  • "We have seen firsthand his passion for all people of Chicago and his dedication to public service,” the aldermen wrote. “Mayor Emanuel’s decades of public service, as well as his energy and tenacity for tirelessly representing his constituents, have prepared him well for this important mission on behalf of the United States.”

Between the lines: Emanuel's confirmation hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, falls on the seventh anniversary of the death of Laquan McDonald.

  • The Black teenager was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police.
  • Emanuel was mayor at the time.
  • The shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

The big picture: Progressives have been criticizing Emanuel's nomination for months, zeroing in on the McDonald shooting.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has urged her colleagues in the Senate to vote against Emanuel.
  • "This nomination is deeply shameful," she said in a statement last month. "That the Biden administration seeks to reward Emanuel with an ambassadorship is an embarrassment and betrayal of the values we seek to uphold both within our nation and around the world."

But, but, but: Emanuel has denied any efforts to conceal McDonald’s death, and insisted he relied on his legal advisers and the Chicago Police Department.

  • The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was sentenced to prison for just under seven years.
  • He will be eligible for parole early next year.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from members of the Chicago City Council.

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