News Release

Biden’s Pick of Rahm Emanuel: “Disrespect for Black Lives”


File:Rahm Emanuel, official photo portrait color (cropped).jpgWith the Senate expected to soon take up the nomination of Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan, opponents are intensifying grassroots efforts to prevent confirmation. Last week — adding to a range of media denunciations since the White House announced the selection of the former Chicago mayor — a columnist for Emanuel’s biggest hometown newspaper lambasted the nomination as a “cynical, ludicrous idea.” Meanwhile, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issued a statement denouncing the Emanuel pick while two other members of Congress, Cori Bush and Mondaire Jones, released a similar joint statement.

While noting that a national NoToRahm campaign is underway with constituents calling for senators to reject the nomination, the Chicago Tribune column by Rex Huppke quoted the campaign’s coalition: “Emanuel has a long record of being extremely undiplomatic, abrasive and contemptuous of humane values. His record as mayor of Chicago, where his administration oversaw the coverup of the horrific police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, is especially troubling.”

Earlier this summer, victims and relatives of victims of police brutality in Chicago while Rahm Emanuel was mayor released a joint statement that said: “During his eight years in office, Emanuel displayed contempt for communities of color. He showed callous disregard for terrible losses suffered by the families of those who were killed or brutalized by officers of the Chicago Police Department.” They added: “Rahm Emanuel became a symbol of lethal disrespect for Black lives. Making him a U.S. ambassador would make the U.S. government a similar symbol.”

A longtime Chicago journalist and political consultant, Delmarie Cobb, told Huppke that “Rahm Emanuel was a disaster for the Black community in Chicago. The remnants of his administration are still very much evident and we’re still living through them. So the idea that someone like him, who was a complete failure as a mayor, would be rewarded with a high-profile ambassadorship or anything in the presidential administration is just unbelievable.”

And Cobb said: “It was Black voters who took Biden over the top. He would not be president if it weren’t for Black voters. So this is an insult to Black voters everywhere, not just in Chicago, to put someone in such a high-profile position whose actions with Laquan McDonald alone should be disqualifying to ever hold a position in anyone’s administration.”

Meanwhile, a Sept. 1 Chicago Tribune news story reported that 28 relatives of Chicago victims of police violence “voiced opposition to an Emanuel appointment to ambassador. Arewa Karen Winters, who said her nephew was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer in 2014, noted Biden’s support for George Floyd’s family and police reform. ‘Rahm Emanuel does not deserve to be the ambassador of anything,’ Winters said in a video voicing opposition. ‘As families who have been traumatized by police violence and terror, we are very hurt and we feel betrayed at even the thought of President Biden wanting to appoint Rahm to such a prestigious position.’”

Cobb wrote in an article that Emanuel “closed 50 public schools in predominantly Black and brown neighborhoods. He closed six of 12 mental health clinics in these communities. Now, who needs access to mental health care more than Chicago’s Black and brown residents who are underserved, underemployed and under constant threat of violence?”

Cobb is available for interviews and can put journalists in communication with relatives of victims of Chicago police violence during Emanuel’s time as mayor.