The Illinois Green Party and Green Party of Chicago support the demand that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez resign from their offices. Each of them betrayed the public trust by suppressing the video recordings showing the shocking execution of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by police officer Jason Van Dyke.
Emanuel sat on the video until forced to disclose it by court order, and Alvarez took no action to charge Van Dyke for 13 months — while Van Dyke continued to be employed by the City and Emanuel ran for re-election. None of their explanations or excuses hold any water.
If Emanuel will not step down, the Illinois Green Party and Green Party of Chicago also support the demand that he be forced to step down by a recall election. We support House Bill 4356, which would amend the State’s municipal code to allow for a recall vote for the mayor of Chicago. We believe that it is a fundamental democratic right of the people, as stated in our platform, “to place on the ballot, for decision by majority vote, the question of recalling elected public officials before their term of office has expired.” This is a right that should be extended statewide, but the office of mayor of Chicago is a good place to start.
The McDonald murder scandal is not the only reason why we support a resignation or recall of Rahm Emanuel. The thoroughly corrupt Emanuel administration continues to protect its police while Chicago public schools and services bear the brunt of years of fiscal irresponsibility. The administration’s callous decision to shut down 50 public schools, mostly in black and Latino neighborhoods, is itself cause for revolt. In a city in which unfathomable volumes of money are traded every day by speculators in the LaSalle Street exchanges, the Emanuel administration does nothing to raise revenue from those most able to pay, leaving City government massively in debt and headed toward bankruptcy, its bonds rated as junk.
While the removal of Emanuel and Alvarez are necessary first steps, they are not sufficient. The history of the Chicago police department – from its barbaric acts during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, through the police torture scandal of Jon Burge, the Guardian newspaper’s recent revelations that the department operates a secret “black site” interrogation facility, to the City’s ongoing inaction in the face of persistent police violence – shows that the problem of police violence is a systemic one, not the product of any one administration. It is part of a broader social and political failure, one which accepts mass unemployment, poverty, neglect, and educational and social inequality, and the hopelessness, substance abuse and crime that inevitably follow – all standing in sharp contrast to the City’s towering temples of wealth. It is the product of a social and political order that relies on police violence and intimidation, not to solve the underlying problems but to keep a lid on them.
The problem of police violence thus demands more far-reaching solutions than the removal of Rahm Emanuel as mayor, as satisfying as that step would be. It demands solutions like:
● a democratically elected police commission, with the authority to investigate citizen complaints of police misconduct, hold hearings, subpoena witnesses and impose discipline for misconduct, up to and including termination;
● fair and progressive taxation, including a requirement that big financiers and speculators begin paying their fair share to support the city and state in which they do business, allowing city and state government to adequately fund schools and public services and create more employment opportunities;
● a democratically elected school board in Chicago, that will fight for high quality public schools and equality of educational opportunity; and
● raising the minimum wage to a real living wage, adequate to support a family.
To enact such solutions, in turn, requires changing a political culture in which political bosses use government, not to serve the public interest, but as a vehicle for doling out favors to their wealthy benefactors. To bring about such change, the Illinois Green Party and the Green Party of Chicago are looking for suitable candidates for public office – in 2016 state and county races and 2017 municipal races – willing to fight for these and other common-sense solutions to the problems afflicting us.
If you, or someone you know, can be such a candidate, contact your local chapter of the Illinois Green Party. In Chicago, contact Chair Nancy Wade of the Green Party of Chicago, at firstname.lastname@example.org . For Cook County office, contact secretary Stephen Perkins at email@example.com. Elsewhere in Illinois, if you do not know your chapter contact, contact secretary Rita Maniotis, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Protest alone is not enough. Real social progress requires getting people elected to government who can and will enact the needed changes into law.