Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday sloughed off as a meaningless political stunt the U.S. Justice Department’s threat to oppose a consent decree outlining the terms of federal court oversight over the Chicago Police Department.
Emanuel said he has “work to do” and doesn’t have the time or the patience to worry about a legal objection that has no more weight than a so-called “amicus brief” filed by another attorney or any other interested party.
The mayor was so annoyed by the filing, he accused reporters of being “played” by portraying the DOJ as “intervening.”
The Sun-Times never mentioned the DOJ was intervening in Tuesday’s story.
“You said ‘intervene.’ They’re not. They’re writing basically the equivalent of a small amicus brief. And you guys — even in the stories — acknowledged it has only symbolic value,” Emanuel said.
“You guys got to stop acting like Pavlovian little mice chasing every time Donald Trump says something. It doesn’t have any value. We’ve got real work to do fighting crime, making our streets safe, educating our kids and growing our economy. This ain’t on the level. How many times have you seen this? How many times have you reported on a tweet? And what have you seen? Come on.”
The Justice Department declined to comment on Emanuel’s remarks.
The mayor said he sees zero chance that the DOJ can stop a train that is already leaving the station.
The city spent the better part of a year negotiating a consent decree with outgoing Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan after Madigan filed a lawsuit against the city to force the issue.
That agreement is now before a federal judge, who is expected to choose a federal monitoring team to ride herd over the Chicago Police Department by year’s end.
U.S. District Judge Robert Dow recently shot down the FOP’s bid to intervene in the case, and the FOP is appealing.
Emanuel appeared to be supremely confident that a Trump Justice Department with whom he once tried to negotiate a memorandum of understanding until Madigan forced his hand will be shot down as well.
“They’re filing the equivalent of a small a amicus brief. You know the game — and you’re getting played,” he admonished reporters.
“We’ve got real work to do. We’re gonna be in front of a judge. We’re committed to the reforms. We’re committed to seeing ’em through. There isn’t anything here.”
If the Trump administration is truly concerned about helping Chicago in its never-ending battle against gun violence, Emanuel said, “Pass the Brady Bill. Pass the assault weapon ban. Help stop the guns from Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Southern Illinois from coming onto the streets of Chicago.”
Emanuel offered U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions one more piece of advice: stop holding up Chicago’s strategic deployment centers as a shining example for the nation “then deny us the resources to do it because we welcome immigrants to the city of Chicago.”
“I don’t have time for people that talk out of both sides of their mouth. I have real work to do,” he said.
FOP President Kevin Graham has branded the consent decree “illegal and invalid.”
Union leaders don’t want a consent decree for fear it would tie the hands of police officers and subject even legitimate policing to unwarranted scrutiny.
On Wednesday, the union issued a statement applauding the DOJ’s impending court filing.
“We are exceedingly grateful that President Trump and AG Sessions are opposing this consent decree,” the union statement said.
“It is nothing more than a politically motivated lawsuit that spelled catastrophe for the citizens of Chicago and its police officers. President Trump and AG Sessions have shown great courage and have the full support of the Fraternal Order of Police.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., said in a statement Wednesday he will use his position on the House Oversight Committee “to pursue a review of this and other actions taken by Attorney General Sessions to sabotage police reform. We need to let local authorities and reform advocates work together to solve the problems that plague the CPD without federal officials preventing such compromises. We have waited far too long to implement these reforms and, to use Attorney General Sessions’ own words, ‘the safety of Chicago depends on it.”‘
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said in a statement, “This announcement from Attorney General Sessions is yet another item in a long list of counterproductive efforts from an Administration that seems more focused on pandering to its base with hateful policies than actually reducing crime and improving police relations with the communities they serve.”
Contributing: Lynn Sweet