In Action, Indivisible Illinois Social Justice Alliance

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October 19, 2021


Dear Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez, Ranking Member Senator Jim Risch, and the members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,


We are writing to this Committee today to express our deep concern about Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s nomination to the post of Ambassador of the United States to Japan. 


As Chicagoans, we know Rahm Emanuel well. Which means we know his blatant disregard for communities of color. During his eight year tenure leading our city, many of Emanuel’s decisions — from closing down dozens of schools, primarily in Black and Hispanic communities, to defunding mental health services — disproportionately harmed the communities of color. 


But no decision shows Emanuel’s callousness and disregard of the communities of color more than his decision to attempt to cover-up the 2013 murder of Laquan McDonald. Laquan, a 17-year-old Black child, was shot sixteen times in the back by a police officer who claimed Laquan lunged at him with a knife. It wasn’t until fourteen months later, when a judge ordered the release of the dashcam, that it was revealed Laquan was walking away from—not lunging toward—the officer when he was shot. 


For 400 days, Rahm Emanuel tried to cover-up the truth of what happened to Laquan. For 400 days, we marched, organized, and protested for the release of the police dashcam footage. We knew that, all too often, police lie when their own careers are at stake. And for 400 days, Emanuel helped the officer evade justice — and prevented Laquan’s family from obtaining the same. 


Emanuel was more concerned with winning his own re-election than obtaining justice for a child—his constituent—murdered on his watch by a member of the police force he oversaw.


We the undersigned, who marched and organized for justice in the aftermath of Laquan’s murder, remember every one of those 400 days, including the day he was killed. Now, we are urging this committee to do the same — especially as this hearing is slated to take place on the very anniversary of his death. 


If Emanuel had regret over the way he callously disregarded the lives of so many of his Black constituents — including but not only Laquan McDonald — he would understand what this day means to us back home. He would understand that it is a day of grief, of mourning, of desperation and rage for Black Chicagoans. And if he did, he would do everything in his power to ensure the focus on Wednesday is squarely on Laquan’s memory, the Black community in Chicago, and not on his personal political advancement.  


Emanuel did not run for re-election in Chicago because he knew he could not win again. The Black community in Chicago would not stand by silently and allow a man to be promoted who didn’t prioritize our wellbeing, our dignity, our lives. We urge you, members of this committee, to not appoint a man to represent this country overseas after he proved to be so colossally unfit to lead his own city back home 


Emanuel’s nomination for U.S. Ambassador to Japan must be withdrawn. If the hearing does occur, we demand that Emanuel be forced to answer for his egregious actions. Chicagoans deserve answers. Black Americans from across the country deserve answers. You, as Senators tasked with advising and consenting the President in this nomination, deserve answers. 


We the undersigned ask that you honor Laquan’s memory on the anniversary of his death by holding Emanuel accountable and asking him to answer for the following questions: 


  • Have you apologized, or will you apologize, to the family of Laquan McDonald? 


  • Why did your administration fight to keep the footage of McDonald being shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke from being made public?


  • Why did you oppose a federal civil rights investigation into the CPD’s tactics in the wake of McDonald’s shooting? 




Arti Walker-Peddakotla, Village Trustee, Oak Park, Freedom to Thrive

Steve Krazinsky, Oak Park Call to Action

Benjamin Henning, Engaged Berwyn

Troy Gaston BLM Chicago Chapter 

Lily Manning, Youth Committee 4 Change

Julie Contreras, United Giving Hope 

Tim Thomas, Oak Park Township Trustee

Paul Goyette, Oak Park Call to Action

Etta Worthington, Western Front Indivisible

Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, Indivisible Illinois, Indivisible IL9

Rosemarie Colacino, Indivisible Illinois Social Justice Alliance,  Indivisible VBM Taskforce, Heartland Resistance Coalition

Sarah Bingaman, Action for a Better Tomorrow – Sauk Valley

Jacquelyn Rodriguez, Oak Park Renters Alliance

Nataki Rhodes, One Fair Wage

Sydney Jackson, Roses4Austin

Will Tanzman, The People’s Lobby 

Annie Williams, Illinois Handmaids;  Indivisible Oak Park Area

Makesha Flournoy-Benson, Oak Park Community Leader 

Ana Garcia Doyle, Environmental Justice Advocate

Jim Doyle, Oak Park Community Member

Cassandra Greer, Nickolas Lee Foundation

Youth Organizers from Revolutionary Oak Park Youth Action League (ROYAL) 

Aisha T. Oliver, Root2Fruit Youth Foundation

Marci Adelston-Schafer, Bend the Arc Jewish Action: Champaign-Urbana, CU Indivisible

Lori Ashikawa, Indivisible Illinois, Nikkei Uprising 


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