Rahm Emanuel is preparing to run for a third term as the mayor of the Windy City this fall but he may have just hit a major snag in those efforts. Yesterday, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police organized an event they called “Blue Wednesday” where police from around the city showed up to protest the mayor, claiming that he has turned his back on the cops. These aren’t exactly the sort of headlines you want to generate just as you’re ramping up your reelection bid. (Fox News)
It’s being called “Blue Wednesday” in Chicago as the city’s Fraternal Order of Police organized a unified public demonstration against Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who the FOP calls “anti-police.”
During the city’s regularly scheduled city council meeting Wednesday morning, ranking members of the police union read aloud a strongly worded statement against Emanuel in which the FOP alleges the mayor has “turned his back” on his police department by being more concerned with “pandering to police-hating media” and by allowing the American Civil Liberties Union to have a seat at the negotiating table.
The Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7, which says it represents an estimated 15,000 active and retired members, recently sent out a notice to all of its members to attend Wednesday’s city council meeting to demand that “Mayor Rahm Emanuel back police.”
This is strangely reminiscent of the relationship New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has had with the NYPD in the past. They literally turned their backs on the mayor at the funeral of a fellow officer a few years ago. Similarly, police in Baltimore had their share of problems with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in the months following the Freddie Gray riots. Rawlings-Blake went on to retire while de Blasio has repaired his relationship with the cops to a certain degree.
It’s fair to point out that the Chicago protests have a decidedly political angle to them. One of the people running against Emanuel is Garry McCarthy, the former Chief of Police who Rahm fired in 2015 after video footage of a controversial police shooting blew up in the media. At the time, McCarthy accused the mayor of throwing him under the bus, so there are almost certainly some sour grapes there. Given his former position, it’s not surprising to see the Fraternal Order of Police jumping in on his side and they’ll likely toss an endorsement his way later this year.
Still, Rahm Emanuel has a problem here. When City Hall and the cops come into conflict, nobody wins. The Mayor’s spokesman said they’re “hitting it down the middle of the fairway” when it comes to taking care of the police and rebuilding relationships with residents. But that’s not the message which we seem to be getting from the cops. And in the end, the mayor needs the police more than the police need the mayor.