A local politician says controversial Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is gradually pushing Black residents out of the city in mass numbers through the use of an underhanded gentrification strategy.
While addressing a crowd during a news conference on Wednesday, Democratic governor candidate Chris Kennedy spoke in detail about what he believes is Mayor Emmanuel's "strategic gentrification" plan that's aiming to make the city "whiter and wealthier."
"I believe that Black people are being pushed out of Chicago intentionally by a strategy that involves disinvestment in communities being implemented by the city administration," Kennedy said, according to a Chicago Tribute news report. "And I believe Rahm Emanuel is the head of the city administration and therefore needs to be held responsible for those outcomes."
Elaborating further, Kennedy cited several areas in which the predominantly Black communities of the city are struggling with funding, including education, healthcare and law enforcement. He suggested that Emmanuel and his administration are intentionally neglecting these communities, leaving the Black residents who make up much of the population no choice but to leave.
"This is involuntary. That we’re cutting off funding for schools, cutting off funding for police, allowing people to be forced to live in food deserts, closing hospitals, closing access to mental health facilities," he added. "What choice do people have but to move, to leave? And I think that’s part of a strategic gentrification plan being implemented by the city of Chicago to push people of color out of the city. The city is becoming smaller, and as it becomes smaller, it’s become whiter."
Emmanuel's office, as well as Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson has since responded to Kennedy's accusations, writing them off as nothing more than an attempt to get ahead at the polls. Emmanuel's spokesperson Matt McGrath also called Kennedy's accusations "divisive" and said he was "ignoring work being done in neighborhoods across the city."
Emannuel has previously face criticism for his questionable decision making during his time in office and poor handling of several high profile matters, most notably the Chicago PD cover up of the LaQuan McDonald shooting. The shooting left 17-year-old McDonald dead after officer Jason Van Dyke shot him 16 times, with video footage proving that the teen was walking away from the officer when the shots were fired, with most of the shots being fired him after he was already laying on the ground. Residents and politicians called for Emmanuel's resignation due to his handling of the case.
The Tribune noted that Kennedy, who is the grandson of former President John F. Kennedy and the son of the late senator Robert Kennedy, has "sought to appeal" to Black voters by speaking out about issues like gun control, educational opportunities and property taxation as they pertain to African-American communities.
Federal census reports show Chicago saw a significant decline in Black residents from 2000 to 2010, with over 175,000 Black residents lost before Emmanuel took office in 2011. The percentage of African-American residents was roughly 33.2 percent in 2010 and was reported at 29.2 percent last year, representing a decrease of roughly 100,000 Black residents.