Rahm Emmanuel's Much Needed Resignation Will Not Make Black Folks Trust the Police

Rahm Emmanuel's Much Needed Resignation Will Not Make Black Folks Trust the Police


In the wake of the Laquan McDonald video being released, calls have been made for Rahm Emmanuel to resign.

These calls are right, Rahm Emmanuel has ruthlessly engaged in systemic violence against Black communities in Chicago. From the closing of more than 50 public schools, to focusing on efforts in the richer parts of Chicago while leaving its poorer communities to fend for itself, he has done nothing convincingly significant about the blight facing Black Chicagoans. The McDonald cover-up is an unsurprising icing on the cake.

There are numerous reasons why Rahm Emmanuel should resign, the least of which is because of a dubious "break" in the trust of the police. Black people have never trusted the police and never will. Emmanuel should resign because he is a tyrant, not because he has shattered "trust" in the police. 

Black people will never trust the police in its current iteration. To suggest that something is “broken” implies that at one point it was fixed. The current system of policing in this country is not an otherwise perfect apparatus suffering a momentary but fleeting depression. No, the police are rotten to their core. The roots of American policing lie in “slave patrols,” and its current manifestation evolved as a means to control the poor in order to protect the interest of capitalist elites. The police have always served to protect the privileged from an assumed deleterious minority.

Blacks folks' lack of trust in the police is an issue far deeper than Rahm, and must be considered with the historical context and present reality of Black suffering enacted at the hands of the police. Black people, youth in particular, have been disproportionately harassed, assaulted, and incarcerated by the police. And this has always been the case. It is the logical result after decades of bad policy which tried to fight the proliferation of drugs with harsh penal laws, an economic system where prisons are profitable, and a militarized police force. All of this buttressed of course by the ever-looming threads of anti-Blackness in this country. 

Appropriately this results in a reality where not only do we not trust the police, but within reason we cannot trust the police. According to a survey report from the Black Youth Project— only 44% of Black youth report trusting the police, as opposed to 71% of white youth. In fact, with the history of police in this country, the only group who could ever trust the police (and appear reasonable on the basis of fact) is white people. Rahm's resignation will not change that. It is doubtful that there is one single solitary moment that can.  

What then are we to make of trust?

Quite frankly, now is not the time to talk of trust. We cannot trust the system of policing in this country. And our goals should not be in the service of merely ameliorating a harmful structure. We can not merely try to douse the flames of a burning house. We need systemic solutions for systemic problems. On the immediate end, we need more legitimate forms of police transparency and accountability. We need the state to invest funds and resources in Black communities so that violence, and subsequently the police, become unnecessary. More expansively, now is as good a time as any to imagine a world without police or prison. Now is the time to find ways to hold each other accountable without dehumanizing one another and robbing each other of our humanity. 

Rahm's resignation is tantamount to the healing of Black Chicago, but one man's political demise will not solve our problems. Moreover, our collective wills and imaginations can envision much greater solutions. 

 The unjust murders and violence against Black folks at the hands of the police is not an aberration nor an accident. The police are doing exactly what they were designed to do. It is now incumbent upon ourselves to reimagine the design.

Aaron is a Chicago-based writer, activist, and educator. His work has been featured in Colorlines, Mused Magazine Online, the Feminist Wire, TruthOut.com, the Advocate, the Education Post, and Chicago South Side Weekly. He is currently working on a speculative fiction novel for young adults. Follow him on twitter and Instagram: @Talley_Marked