Education

Powerful Teachers Union Joins Calls For Rahm Emanuel To Resign

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Blake Neff Reporter

Chicago’s formidable teachers union has called on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign his post over his handling of Laquan McDonald’s death at the hands of city police.

The decision by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) isn’t really a surprise, as the union has been a strident foe of Emanuel for almost his entire tenure as mayor. It’s also currently locked in battle with his administration over the negotiation of a new contract, and it’s threatening to strike as soon as March.

Still, the announcement is at least a little unusual, because the issue in question has little to do with the city’s schools.

Instead, the union’s demand is prompted by the controversy over McDonald’s death. The 17-year-old McDonald was killed by policeman Jason Van Dyke in October, 2014, and Emanuel’s administration fought for over a year to prevent the release of police dashcam footage showing the shooting.

After a judge finally forced the city to release the footage in November, much of the city was outraged as it revealed that McDonald, who was carrying a knife, was shot from more than ten feet away and was not actively charging police.

Just one day after the footage was released, Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder.

“The CTU support demands that Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez resign immediately from public office for the unconscionable delay of their governmental institutions in addressing Laquan McDonald’s killing and other issues of excessive, unwarranted, unjustified, and lethal police force in the City of Chicago that have surfaced in the aftermath,” said a resolution approved by CTU’s House of Delegates.

CTU accuses Emanuel and Alvarez of intentionally delaying the release of police footage in order to ensure their reelection in early 2015. The resolution joins its voice to that of several media outlets as well as a slim majority of Chicagoans.

Emanuel has insisted he has no plans to resign, and his spokesman Adam Collins downplayed the importance of CTU’s attack. “The CTU organized against the mayor’s campaigns in 2011 and 2015, and this is nothing more than a continuation of their longstanding political position,” Collins said in a statement.

Collins is certainly correct that CTU is a longstanding enemy of Emanuel. The union went on a seven-day strike in 2012 in pursuit of higher pay and to protest against merit pay and other reform measures favored by Emanuel. More recently, CTU has been alienated by repeated waves of layoffs, and CTU president Karen Lewis was expected to challenge Emanuel for mayor in 2015 until a cancer diagnosis forced her out of the running.

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