Mayor delays speech on Chicago violence amid blowback

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel is planning to deliver a speech later this week on public safety and Chicago's violence problem, but he's made some adjustments.

The original plan had the mayor speaking Tuesday to reportedly call on some African-American parents to do a better job raising their children. The blowback has caused him to delay and rethink his speech.

After helping rename the South Side Water Filtration plant after the late former Mayor Eugene Sawyer, Rahm Emanuel confirmed his speech will call for better parenting as a means to reduce violence in African-American neighborhoods.

"There's significance in making sure that our kids have the right kinds of role models and values in their lives so that they can make decisions today that will impact their lives in an appropriate, positive way," Emanuel said.

"Parenting is an issue, but I hope the mayor does not come out and blame the parents," former U.S. Sen. Roland Burris said.

Some black community leaders who attended the event were skeptical and said City Hall should focus on economic development in the African-American community.

"If neighborhoods aren't getting financial support, getting investment, then there's no hope," said Matt McGill, WVON-AM radio talk show host.

The Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute says Illinois has the highest black unemployment rate of all 50 states. At the same time, Chicago has a higher level of violence and murder than the much larger cities of New York and Los Angeles.

"The government is not providing people the very basic needs that you have in a free society," former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said.

McCarthy, the one-time police superintendent fired by Emanuel, discounted parenting as a factor. During a City Club speech, he blamed "empowered" criminals and racism.

"I think its failure of the government to recognize the roots of where we are," McCarthy said.

"There's no doubt that jobs and economic development are a key part of making sure people have hope where there is despair," Emanuel said.

The mayor said he delayed his public safety speech until Thursday to get more input on where he should put the focus.

"You want to get it right and you want to make sure everybody gets a chance to weigh in," Emanuel said.

The mayoral address on public safety is scheduled for Thursday night at the Malcolm X College on Chicago's West Side.
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