Our Pledge To You

News

Alderman won’t back down on use of n-word in principal’s ouster

Ald. David Moore voiced his support for former Blaine Elementary School Principal Troy LaRaviere to reporters at City Hall Friday. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

A rookie alderman said Friday he “neither regrets nor apologizes for” his use of the N-word to condemn the ouster of popular Blaine Elementary School principal Troy LaRaviere.

“In this context, the word ‘n—er’ was purposely used as an evocative metaphor that highlights the pejorative reality that black people, our community and our voice has been and continues to be perceived as less than and irrelevant at the table of power,” said Ald. David Moore (17th).

“Furthermore, that affirmation is perceived to be an implicit and, at times, explicit response from the racist status quo when black people audaciously challenge it.”

He added, “Neither I regret, nor apologize. Yes, I used the word n—er to highlight what myself and many people in this city of all races believe to be a dictatorial authority engineering Troy LaRaviere’s ouster.”

Moore said he has had a “front-row seat” to that attitude his entire life.

“The Troy LaRaviere saga is yet another plot in the, ‘N—er, stay in your place’ short stories to which many black people can relate and contribute,” Moore said.

Moore, who is black, used the offensive and racist language to describe African-Americans in a Facebook post last week.

Moore was essentially accusing Mayor Rahm Emanuel of engineering the ouster of the Blaine principal in retaliation for LaRaviere’s outspoken criticism of the mayor’s education policies.

“All I hear is, ‘Stay in your place n—er.’ Not one elected official, who cares about the education of our children, should remain silent about this DICTATORIAL move!” Moore wrote – though he spelled out the word.

On Friday, Moore held a City Hall news conference and did not back down one inch from his provocative choice of words. In fact, he defended his use of the n-word and noted that President Barack Obama used the word during a June 2015 radio interview to make a similar point.

Moore made it clear he was neither putting racist language in Emanuel’s mouth, nor was he suggesting that LaRaviere was fired because he is black.

Rather, the alderman suggested that the Blaine principal was fired for daring to “speak truth to power.”

“It is far more important to focus on the frame of the oppression. This frame is saying, ‘If you are a whistleblower, then you will be fired. If you speak out against corrupt practices, you will be fired,’” Moore said.

“I liken this to the code of silence culture that we are trying to change within CPD, but we want to say okay for CPS. The same racist culture and policy that make it okay to put bullets in our children’s backs is equal to the same culture and policies that are being used to kill our children academically.”

Reached by telephone Friday, LaRaviere declined to comment.

He still faces an internal internal hearing at CPS before an independent hearing officer that was postponed from Friday to the week of May 9, and then his case could go before the Illinois State Board of Education.

Last week, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders accused Emanuel of flexing his muscle in a “politically-motivated retaliation” against LaRaviere.

Sanders pinned the principal’s reassignment squarely on the mayor and on what he called “Emanuel’s unhealthy obsession with taking revenge.”

On Monday, the mayor fired back by flatly denying any role in the Blaine principal’s ouster.

“When I first became mayor, I set the city on a course to [get out from] under the Shakman decree, where there was political hiring going on and politics played a role in personnel in the city of Chicago. It took me three years, but we ended a 40-year federal judge oversight of our hiring,” Emanuel told an unrelated news conference at Dunbar High School.

“I do not get involved in a personnel decision. I can understand if I’m getting blamed. But I’m just being clear. I’m adhering to the Shakman decree.”

Emanuel was reminded that LaRaviere is now vying to become president of the Chicago Principals Association.

The now-ousted Blaine principal also endorsed vanquished mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia over Emanuel in the 2015 election and cut a commercial for Sanders before the March 15 Illinois primary denouncing the mayor’s education policies.

Still, Emanuel said, “I’ve said exactly what I said. I do not get involved in personnel decisions.”

It’s not the first time Moore has been at the center of controversy.

During a down-and-dirty aldermanic campaign, Moore held a bizarre City Hall news conference to condemn as a homophobic smear a letter he claimed was being falsely circulated in his name claiming to come clean about his struggle with his sexuality.

The unsigned letter talked about Moore’s 2011 aldermanic campaign that forced incumbent Ald. Latasha Thomas into a run-off, but fell 321 votes short.

“It’s the lowest of the low that you can go. … It’s untrue. It’s a lie. My friends, my family, my neighbors — everyone knows me. I don’t have to defend a lie,” Moore said then.

The controversy that seems to surround Moore didn’t end with the election.

Last summer, the rookie alderman initially refused, then abruptly granted, a city permit required to close the street for the annual summer block party outside St. Sabina’s Catholic Church in Auburn-Gresham because the party was co-sponsored by Spike Lee and the cast of “Chi-Raq.”

Two months later, a 22-year-old transgender prostitute was arrested after Moore told police that the offender opened the alderman’s car door and punched him in the forearm.

The alderman claimed the alleged attack occurred after he left a raucous party he was trying to rein in after neighbors complained.

(Contributing: Lauren Fitzpatrick)