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Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy Says He's Running Against Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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Garry McCarthy

Former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in May 2012.

Charles Rex Arbogast

Former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy announced Wednesday night that he will run against Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the 2019 election, and the race is quickly heating up. 

Speaking to Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia on Thursday, McCarthy accused the Emanuel administration of trying to cover up the controversial police shooting of Laquan McDonald. McCarthy served as the city’s top cop until 2015, when Emanuel asked for McCarthy’s resignation after the release of a police dashcam video showing a police officer fatally shooting McDonald.

Later Thursday, Emanuel's campaign released an online ad trying to link McCarthy to President Donald Trump. 

McCarthy talked to Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia about his mayoral campaign, the McDonald shooting, and why he’s not sold on the city’s pitch for Amazon’s second headquarters. Below are interview highlights and a statement from Emanuel's campaign spokesman. 

The Laquan McDonald shooting

Tony Sarabia:You were the police superintendent at the time of the Laquan McDonald shooting. A lot of controversy surrounding that. What do you say to the African-American community on that score?

Garry McCarthy:It’s called truth telling. You know, there’s revisionist history that has been written, and at the end of the day, the structure here, because of the politics in the past of Chicago, built a system where the superintendent of police could only take one action in a case like this. And that was to put that officer on paid desk duty. People don’t understand that. That needs to be explained to them.

The second thing that people need to understand is that the holding of that video — the withholding of that video — took place entirely in City Hall. It was done by Rahm Emanuel’s attorney, Steve Patton. So you don’t have to be a detective to figure out exactly what happened here.

Those are facts. It’s documented. It’s in the public record.

Sarabia: But I’m referring to something you said back in April of 2015 regarding the dashcam footage. You said, yeah, you backed releasing it but only after ongoing investigations had concluded. And that was something that City Hall attorneys were saying as well. So how do you square those two?

McCarthy: Very simply. Go and look at Steve Patton’s testimony to the Finance Committee of the City Council. Because you can’t square two statements that he made. In the City Council, he said Officer [Jason] Van Dyke acted in the scope of his authority. Now that was in April of 2015. OK? And in April of 2015, we were in the middle of the Chuy Garcia runoff [election].

In, I guess it was January or February of last year, when [Patton] quote-unquote resigned, which I’m not certain that actually happened, he said when he saw the dashcam video, he believed, and it’s been borne out, that it’s a case of murder.

One of those two statements is not true. So you pick which one.

Sarabia: I’m just wondering about your contention that you backed the release of it but then later you said you backed the release of it after the investigation was complete.

McCarthy: Yeah, and that’s the policy in law enforcement across the country at the time.

Sarabia: Do you think this is going to really dog your candidacy? And I’m wondering, how do you plan to overcome this?

McCarthy: Fact telling. What I’m telling you about right now. It’s documented — I could show you paperwork. People have got to start realizing the distractions and the misinformation that’s been coming out of City Hall. You know, the old joke: How can you tell when he’s lying? His lips are moving.

That’s what’s been happening, and people are tired of it.

What issues he’ll campaign on

McCarthy: The easiest issue for me, obviously, to talk about is crime. But the three biggest issues in the city of Chicago, in no particular order, are taxes and the economy, the schools, and crime. And they’re so interwoven that they can’t be separated. People want to separate them out and say “let’s talk about education.” [They] want to separate out the taxes and the economy here in the city. But they are all affected by the crime, and they’re all affected by each other.

The city’s bid for Amazon’s HQ2

McCarthy: If Amazon does come and they bring God knows how many jobs to Chicago, who’s going to get the jobs? Is it going to be people in the suburbs? And if Amazon is downtown, will people who they hire be able to live downtown? Probably not. And what kind of tax break are they going to get, which is not going to dig us out of the hole that we’re in right now because of our taxes? So all of that has to be addressed.

I’m not sure it’s going to be a great thing. I’m not sure they’re actually going to come with the way that this city is going.

Statement from Emanuel campaign

“When Garry McCarthy says he's a conservative Democrat, the only part we question is the word Democrat,” said Pete Giangreco, spokesman for the Emanuel campaign. “Donald Trump thinks McCarthy is ‘a phenomenal guy’ because they're both cut from the same New York cloth and embrace the same bitter, divisive rhetoric and policies. But personal bitterness isn’t a way to build a bright future for Chicago.”

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview, which was adapted for the web by Hunter Clauss.

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