Despite former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel claiming support among Black organizations, some Democrat lawmakers still have questions about his handling of a deadly incident in the Windy City as his confirmation hearing for U.S. ambassador to Japan approaches, The Washington Post is reporting.
Emanuel, a former congressman and ex-chief of staff to President Barack Obama, touted his backing among Black groups in closed-door meetings with lawmakers.
But some Democrats are criticizing his selection to the ambassador’s post because of his role in the aftermath of the police killing of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald.
Emanuel was mayor of Chicago in 2014 when a white police officer, Jason Van Dyke, shot the Black 17-year-old McDonald. The event, captured on video, sparked outrage. The officer was convicted in 2018 of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. He was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison.
The Post noted the delayed released of the dashboard-camera video of she shooting came 13-months after the incident and pointed out it also came after Emanuel had won his second term for mayor.
Freshman House Democrat Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., tweeted in May: "Black Lives Matter can't just be a slogan. It has to be reflected in our actions as a government, and as a people. Rewarding Rahm Emmanuel's cover up of Laquan McDonald's murder with an ambassadorship is not an act that reflects a value of or respect for Black lives."
Bowman does not have a say in who is confirmed; that is left to the Senate. But Bowman does have an influential voice in the liberal sphere.
In the private remarks to lawmakers, Emanuel pointed out he has support from Black community groups in Chicago, as well as from McDonald’s family.
"(Emanuel) didn’t mention which family member it would come from … but said he’d have this letter and the family will say they are okay with his nomination," said an aide to one Senate Democrat.
A Sept. 11 letter signed by the Rev. Marvin Hunter, a pastor at Grace Memorial Baptist Church and McDonald’s great uncle, was addressed to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will consider Emanuel’s nomination on Wednesday, according to the Post.
"I realize that my position on this nomination might come as a surprise to some," Hunter wrote. "I may even be attacked for speaking up. However, I am a man of faith. I believe in what the scripture says about righteous judgment and looking into a person’s heart. I have taken the time to get to know Rahm Emanuel. We have listened to each other, truly heard each other. I understand the character of the man and that is why I support this nomination."
But the Post contacted Hunter, who said Emanuel is not supported by "everyone" in the McDonald family.
And some progressives in the House, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez D-N.Y., Cori Bush D-Mo., and Mondaire Jones D-N.Y., are also voicing opposition to the nomination of Emanuel.
Progressive lawmakers in the Senate like Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders I-Vt., have yet to comment on the nomination.
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