Chicago’s Emanuel Met with ’16 Shots’ Student Protest at Event


A moment that would normally be friendly for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel turned sour when student protesters began to shout “16 shots” during a ceremony meant to introduce a citywide strategy that would increase opportunities for “every child and young man of color” in the city.

Emanuel was at Urban Prep Academies to introduce a new version of “My Brother’s Keeper” that would create a new board to help offer job opportunities for young minorities.  The mayor is a regular visitor to the charter school, which says that 100% of its African-American male graduates go on to attend college.  School leader Tim King was one of the people Emanuel had placed on the board.

He was met with students at the school shouting “16 shots” at him for at least 10 seconds.  A number of students at the school are the same age as 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014.  McDonald was shot 16 times, reports John Byrne for The Chicago Tribune.

Although he did not directly mention the incident, the mayor told students his goal was to offer “cradle-to-career” support for all African-American males, adding that now is a “particular time in the city” when special attention must be given to disaffected young people and more opportunities must be made available for them, writes Fran Spielman for The Chicago Sun-Times.

“Know that every step of your journey is a journey that we have to take as a City of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

The students waited until Emanuel had finished his announcement, then shouted “16 shots” at him in an expression of their anger over the McDonald case and the issues that have been highlighted as a result of it.

Urban Prep is the first venue at which the mayor has allowed reporters and TV cameras to follow him during his recent announcement, although he has visited 14 other community locations since the McDonald video was released.  Interim Police Superintendent John Escalante typically attends the events with the mayor.

Emanuel said the goal of these visits is to increase communication.

“One of the things that I’m trying to do in these conversations, but not just with the police, but convening community leaders and police leadership and police officers in that conversation I’m trying to create,” Emanuel said.

He has also gone to at least five police districts during the shift change, bringing pizzas and looking for reactions to the incident from rank and file officers.  Emanuel noted that he visits the stations in an effort to let officers know they are appreciated, but that those who do not act professionally will not be tolerated.

In response to the incident at Urban Prep, Emanuel spokeswoman Lauren Huffman told Mike Flannery for The Chicago Tribune that the mayor knows citizens are “understandably frustrated” and that he has “called for systemic reform to bring safety to every community and rebuild trust where it has been lost.”