Duckworth Silent on Rahm Emanuel Amid Chicago Police Controversy

Chicago mayor facing allegations he covered up police misconduct

John Escalante, Rahm Emanuel
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel waits for interim Chicago Police Superintendent John Escalante to join him in departing a news conference / AP
December 8, 2015

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is facing mounting criticism amid allegations that he helped cover up police misconduct, but so far the frontrunner in the Illinois Democratic senate primary has remained silent on the issue.

While Senate candidate Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) called for the Chicago police superintendent to step down earlier this month, she has yet to comment on calls from Chicago constituents and Democratic lawmakers for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign as well.

According to a poll on Tuesday, over half of Chicagoans said Emanuel should step down, after questions were raised about how he handled the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager killed by a police officer last year.

Emanuel’s administration withheld police footage of the shooting that his critics say conflicted with claims that the officer shot McDonald in self-defense. The city released the video only after a recent court order.

A spokesperson for Duckworth did not respond to request for comment about whether Emanuel made a mistake by not releasing the video earlier and the ongoing calls for the mayor’s resignation.

Duckworth issued a carefully worded statement on Facebook last month after the video was released, but did not take a position on how the mayor’s office handled the issue.

"Investigations of this nature should of course be thorough and deliberate, but it is my hope that officials at every step of this process understand the public’s frustration and skepticism as to why this particular investigation has taken so long — and that real accountability and reform are pursued across Chicago’s criminal justice system," said Duckworth.

The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into how Chicago police handled the case.

Duckworth’s Democratic challengers, former Urban League president Andrea Zopp and State Sen. Napoleon Harris, have also stayed silent on the calls for Emanuel’s resignation.

The issue has split Democrats, with some on Capitol Hill saying Emanuel should step down if he saw the footage and continued to oppose its release. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took a similar position last week.

Others are standing by Emanuel, including his long-time ally and Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Last week, Clinton said Emanuel "loves Chicago and I'm confident that he's going to do everything he can to get to the bottom of these issues."

Emanuel has remained neutral in the Illinois Democratic Senate primary, although Duckworth and Zopp both have close political ties to the mayor.