Mayor Rahm Emanuel came to the defense of the Chicago Police Department Friday, saying the city has become too polarized.
“When an officer is doing something wrong, we’re going to hold them accountable,” he said. “When they do something right, we’re going to hold them up as an example of what’s right about what they do.”
Speaking to reporters, the mayor addressed recent violence in Chicago.
“At the end of the day, taking on violence is about putting more police on the street and getting kids, guns and gangs off the street,” he said.
The mayor praised Chicago police Sgt. Bryan Topczweski, who saved 10-year-old Tavon Tanner’s life after the child was critically wounded by gunfire on Monday. He extended his praise to the police officers that on Thursday bought a swimming pool for 6-year-old Tacarra Morgan, who was too afraid to go outside after being shot in front of her grandparents’ house in July.
“That’s the face of the Chicago Police Department,” the mayor said.
“We too often have a debate where we polarize and make everybody go into their corners, whether it’s more complicated or more nuanced. Now, I guarantee you whatever gangbanger pulled that trigger, he hasn’t visited any one of those children in the hospital. He didn’t have a respirator. He didn’t buy a swimming pool,” he continued.
Emanuel said people should focus on building a sense of community and trust between people rather than picking sides.
“There are places where the police have not done right, [but] there are places where the police have done right. … And there are gang members who then make a choice in life and they pick a different course, and we owe them a chance to do right,” Emanuel said.
The mayor’s remarks followed a press conference at green roof manufacturer Omni Ecosystems that marked the end of this year’s One Summer Chicago program.
The program employed more than 30,000 Chicago youth with job and internship opportunities, more than twice the 14,000 summer jobs it provided five years ago, Emanuel said.
“One Summer Chicago is about making sure that our kids, when that bell goes off at the end of the year, participate in what I refer to … as a paycheck with a purpose,” Emanuel said.
“That paycheck is one thing, but it’s the purpose behind that paycheck that they have earned and the value system that comes with it that makes this city so much stronger.”