There may be a number of Chicago officials condemning two Black city police officers whose photo of them kneeling in protest went viral, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel won’t be one of them, according to the the Chicago Tribune.
However, because the political statement by officers in uniform posted to Instagram violated department policy, Emanuel said he understood the internal decision to discipline the officers. The men were “betwixt, between two different aspirations,” the mayor said.
Ironically, Emanuel also seemed “betwixt” and “between” two principles.
On one hand, he was defending Black officers in a department he has publicly reprimanded for racist practices, endangering an already-tense relationship. On the other hand, the mayor must also show support for the kinds of protests that could threaten his chances at a 2019 re-election.
In the wake of a high-profile shooting of a Black teenager by a White Chicago police officer, school-aged teenagers called for Emanuel’s ousting this summer with the chant, “16 shots and a cover-up!” They were referring to LaQuan McDonald, the 17-year-old who was shot 16 times while laying on the ground, an event in which Emanuel was accused of withholding damning evidence from the public as he faced re-election.
In the photo, Chicago activist Aleta Clark is shown kneeling between the two still unnamed Black officers who she’d approached in a police station. Her caption read, “That Moment when you walk into the police station and ask the Men of Color are they Against Police Brutality and Racism & they say Yes… then you ask them if they support Colin Kapernick [sic]… and they also say yes… then you ask them to Kneel.!”