Black Lives Matter activist Ja’Mal Green is joining the increasingly crowded field of candidates looking to unseat Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the 2019 election.
At 22 years old, Green is by far the youngest candidate to enter the race so far.
On Tuesday, Green talked with Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia about his activism with Black Lives Matter and his prior use of harsh rhetoric against the Chicago Police Department. Here are some interview highlights.
On his background as an activist
Ja’Mal Green: I’ve been on the front lines fighting for rights and not just with Black Lives Matter. I was a Bernie Sanders surrogate. I was in front of a lot of the progressive issues. And I’ve built a coalition in this campaign with the LGBTQ community, with the Latino community, with young people. And they’re all excited about the platform of what we’re about to do. And I think this is going to be a history-making moment, not just because I’m the youngest candidate to ever run, but because I’m going to be the youngest candidate to ever win.
How he would garner support from rank-and-file police officers
Green: Me being an activist, in the past there have been certain incidents in which a kid was just shot 16 times like a dog. There have been certain instances where a grandmother goes to the store and she’s shot. And as activists, we wanted to shed light on the issues from the bad cops.
And I have an extensive relationship with the police department. I have a relationship with Superintendent Eddie Johnson. I have a relationship with lots of police officers on the force who are with me in saying, “Listen, we’ve got these few bad apples that are racist, that are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing in serving the people. We need to get rid of them because they don’t speak for us.”
You’ve got to understand that the police department is being demonized — all 12,500 of them — when it’s only 30 to 50 of them that are doing wrong in a year. So that is a bad look on them as well and they want to change that. And that’s why I’m proposing a new accountability measure which will ensure police officers’ independence.
On using rhetoric critical of Chicago police
Green: What I won’t do is apologize for being an activist. Because people understood. At the time, people understood why people were outraged. What I will say is of course I can apologize for using some rhetoric that could’ve offended police officers in the past. But they understood our pain. They understood. Because we’ve got to look at [slain Chicago police Cmdr.] Paul Bauer as well. When that happened to Paul Bauer, that was a tragedy, and I stood with the police force when that happened because we all have to stand together in times of tragedy. They also understand that they have to stand with the community in times of tragedy as well.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire interview.