Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday blasted the in-your-face tactics that forced a premature end to his second town hall meeting one day after Dyett High School protesters stormed the stage and confronted him at the South Shore Cultural Center.
It’s one thing to get an earful from angry constituents, as Emanuel did during the first town hall meeting Monday night.
It’s quite another to have protesters within inches of the mayor, screaming and pointing fingers in his face — so much so that Emanuel had to be rescued by his bodyguard detail and escorted to a back room while the chair he was sitting in lay toppled on the stage.
“I understand my role as the mayor to hear what you have to say, no matter how energetic. But you can disagree without being disagreeable and, more importantly, you can do it in a way that’s not unfair to the others,” Emanuel said.
“A lot of people were there. I was ready to go back out. And a lot of people who weren’t part of Dyett were waiting. When they went home, it was clear that those who were shouting shut it down. That wasn’t fair to them. They came for a budget hearing.”
Before the second town hall meeting was hijacked and cut short, Emanuel said he heard from people who talked about everything from day care and mental health, to summer jobs, afterschool programs and tax increment finance reform.
“They wanted to be heard too. I’m not going to lose their ideas or comments like the other night. I made sure our staff has them because they count too. They may not be the loudest. But their ideas have merit,” the mayor said.
With trademark sarcasm, Emanuel then tried to make a joke of what was truly a scary moment for his staff and security team.
“South Shore Cultural Center always has been a special place for me. That’s where Amy and me got married,” the mayor said with a smile.
“I’ve got to be honest. I thought then when we put our two families together, that would be the fireworks. Now I have a new appreciation for my father-in-law.”