FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
A statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
The political landscape in Chicago radically changed today.
The city is in shock and awe after Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s surprise announcement that he will not seek a third term.
While we applaud his contributions to Chicago – pre-K for all, a vibrant and beautiful downtown – perhaps now, with a fresh start, the city’s unmet needs and unfinished business can be addressed. The unfinished business of violence, the closing of 50 public schools, the shuttering of mental health clinics and uneven job and contract distribution.
There are nine communities in Chicago – on the South and West sides of the city – where unemployment is 20 percent or higher, and the poverty rate hovers around 40 percent.
It should surprise no one that these abandoned, neglected zones of despair and poverty, these “endangered communities,” produce most of the city’s violence.
We don’t know why Mayor Emanuel, the ultimate political street fighter, decided to call it quits.
He had the most money and the most machinery--the inside track. He has yet to detail his reasons for stepping down.
The announcement comes one day before the start of the trial of police officer Jason Van Dyke in the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
That case –described as “16 shots and a coverup” by critics of Emanuel– has haunted the mayor and his police department for nearly three years.
In protest of the mayor’s initial withholding of police video of the killing and violence in general, there have been uprisings across the city, shutting down North Michigan Avenue, the Dan Ryan expressway and Lake Shore Drive.
On Labor Day, a dozen activists were arrested as they tried to shut down the Kennedy expressway as well.
Those who aspire to replace Emanuel must put forward an urban agenda, a policy that is inclusive from the bottom up, to close gaps of inequity and make Chicago one city for all, following in the footsteps of Mayor Harold Washington, emphasizing neighborhoods where the need is greatest.