As part of his ceaseless effort to find other people to blame for the bad shit that happens on his watch, Mayor Emanuel jetted home from his ten-day vacation in Cuba on Tuesday to announce that police have to do a better job of responding to “mental health crises.”
He was alluding to the shootings on December 26, when after responding to calls about a domestic argument at an apartment on the west side, police shot 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier and, accidentally, Bettie Jones, the 55-year-old mother of five.
“It is clear changes are needed to how officers respond to mental health crises,” the mayor said.
Presumably the crisis to which he referred was the argument between LeGrier and his father that prompted the father to call for the police.
But you know, I think the mayor ought to be a little reluctant to ever mention the words “mental” and “health” in the same sentence, given his rather shameful policies on this issue.
I am, of course, referring to his unilateral decision back in 2011 to close six of the city’s 12 mental health clinics, most of which served high-crime, low-income black and Hispanic communities that need such help the most.
Closings the mayor conveniently managed not to mention at today’s press conference, where he tried to enumerate all the people to blame for the recent spate of police shootings without, of course, mentioning himself.
I might mention that the clinic closings were part of his first budget package, which the City Council unanimously passed out of fear that the mayor would avenge a no vote by unfavorably redrawing their wards in the upcoming redistricting.
Guess the mayor’s not the only politician in town primarily concerned with self-preservation.
Mayor Rahm closed those clinics—including ones in Woodlawn, Auburn Gresham, and Back of the Yards—without discussion or debate. He didn’t even feel compelled to concoct one of his infamous bogus justifications that no one really believes anyway.
Like, for instance, his insistence that his failure to release the video of Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald had nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with politics or the election.
Back then the mayor also refused to meet with activists who were protesting outside his City Hall office begging for a chance to tell him how much those mental health clinics were needed to serve vulnerable people living in stressful high-crime areas.
But maybe—just maybe—with access to the some of the same kinds of counseling people in Rahm’s neck of the woods routinely get, folks wouldn’t be freaking the fuck out.
(Not that folks in Rahm’s neck of the woods aren’t freaking the fuck out for this or that reason—even with the counseling. But, you know what I’m saying . . . )
No, Mayor Rahm said he had to do what he had to do to shave a few million from the budget. Even though it’s still not clear how much, if anything, closing those clinics saved us.
Then he turned right around and endorsed a state tax break for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, one of the wealthiest exchanges in the world.
And presto, just like that he essentially took money from the poorest of the poor and gave it to the richest of the rich.
Say what you will about Rahm—but he’s earned the nickname Mayor 1 percent.
Wait, wait—that’s not even the worst part of the story.
The worst part came after people took to the streets to protest his clinic closings. That’s when Mayor Emanuel sent in some undercover police officers to spy on the protesters.
So there’s not enough money to operate mental health clinics, but there’s more than enough to pay for undercover cops to spy on the mental health activists.
And all this went down in the months before he closed those 50 schools.
Now that I think about it, I can’t understand why more Chicagoans aren’t out in the streets demanding that he step down. And of course I’ll never understand why you reelected him, Chicago.
I can’t say for certain that Quintonio LeGrier or Laquan McDonald would have received the counseling they obviously needed had Mayor Emanuel not closed those clinics.
But I do know you can’t get help from a clinic once it’s closed.
Tell you what, Mr. Mayor . . .
If you really care so much about the “mental health crises,” reopen the clinics.
It’s not too late to try to undo the damage you’ve done.