Was Rahm Emanuel’s Re-Election the Reason Chicago Police Shooting Video Was Suppressed?

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

There has been much speculation and controversy over just why, as Jesse Jackson tells it, the City of Chicago suppressed for thirteen months a police video showing a white police officer empty sixteen rounds of bullets from his magazine into a errant black teenager who had brandished a four-inch knife, while reportedly high on PCP.

Most of the bullets hit Laquan McDonald while he lay helpless on the pavement, causing universal outrage in viewers across all political stripes, races, or creeds. But hardly any commentary has been devoted to what may have been one of the malignant contributing factors to the news media blackout: Rahm Emanuel’s and other Chicago politicians’ re-elections earlier this year, who might have feared release of the video would hurt their re-election chances.

Chicago held elections for mayor and city council late last February. Runoff elections for races in which no candidate received a majority of the votes took place on April 7, 2015. All fifty city council seats were up for election, as well as the mayor’s office, being defended by President Obama’s former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.

Forty-three of the fifty city council incumbents ran for re-election, seven incumbents running unopposed. But because they failed to win outright majorities in the February election, seventeen council races and surprisingly the mayoral race were forced into runoff elections on April 7, 2015. Emanuel won his run-off handily, but only after a grueling campaign. It was the first Chicago mayoral run-off election in twenty years.

Emanuel surely was anticipating a tough re-election campaign on October 20, 2014 when McDonald was shot. And the filing deadline for candidates who wished to run for mayor and city council was November 24, 2014. Emanuel was subsequently forced in his re-election campaign to defend a red light camera system criticized by the Chicago Tribune. His support for charter schools and fights with the teachers’ union and school board figured into the campaign. His challengers also argued for the hiring of more police, while Emanuel said it should not come as an additional cost to taxpayers.

To say that Chicago and Cook County politics have a history of being notoriously corrupt is an understatement. Some feel presidential election outcomes have been affected by such corruption. Given this history, why hasn’t the speculation in the media about reasons for the Laquan McDonald video black-out focused on the possibility of political suppression by elected officials in order to reduce controversy and increase their chances for re-election? Let’s hope the mainstream media starts considering that possibility.

James V. Lacy, a frequent guest on Fox Business News Channel’s “Varney & Company,” is editor of the new book, “Taxifornia 2016: 14 Essays on the Future of California,” available at Amazon.com.