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Spike Lee criticises Rahm Emanuel: 'More heads will roll' over shooting of black teen

The Chicago mayor is under mounting pressure over the death of Laquan McDonald 

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Wednesday 02 December 2015 19:55 GMT
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Spike Lee predicted more 'heads will roll' in Chicago
Spike Lee predicted more 'heads will roll' in Chicago (AP)

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is under mounting pressure over the shooting of a black teenager and has been forced to cancel a planned trip to France and fend off criticism from the film director Spike Lee.

Mr Emanuel has been under intense pressure since the release last week of video footage that showed the October 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a white police officer.

The officer, Jason Van Dyke, has been charged with first degree murder. On Tuesday, in a move widely seen as an attempt to try and distance himself from the scandal, Mr Emanuel asked for the resignation of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, right, appears at a news conference with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, left. (Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

The mayor has faced criticism from a variety of quarters, with many saying that both he and the prosecutor involved in the case should also resign.

The director Spike Lee, whose film Chi-Raq premiered in New York on Tuesday night, said he thought “some more heads are gonna roll”, after the resignation of Mr McCarthy.

The police superintendent “is not going to be the only one,” he told the Associated Press.

Lee’s film, is based on the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes. His adaptation is about the murder of a child hit by a stray bullet in Chicago's South Side, and the group of women that organise a unique way of dealing with the ongoing violence by holding back on sex.

On Wednesday, Mr Emanuel canceled plans to travel to Paris to attend the global climate change summit.

Laquan McDonald was shot and killed in October 2014 (AP)

During an interview with Politico, he said he will not go to Paris so he can remain “front and centre” in Chicago amid continuing public unrest in the wake of the scandal over the fatal police shooting of the 17-year-old.

Mr Emanuel, who was elected to a second term second term earlier this year, said climate change is an important issue, as is showing solidarity with Paris in the wake of the terrorist attacks there, but he said it was more important to be in Chicago to focus on issues surrounding the police department.

“This is a challenging time for the city, and as I said, it needs sustained effort,” said Mr Emanuel, who served as President Barack Obama’s first chief-of-staff.

“Part of that effort requires the mayor to be present.”

Asked why he hasn’t considered resigning, Mr Emanuel quipped, “I really so much looked forward to this interview, and I wanted to have it.”

John Cusack, who appears in the film, said the shootings and killings in Chicago each year were “unacceptable,” and cited political motives. He claimed that the release of the video and the charging of the officer were put off until after the election.

“It’s very tragic that information was suppressed for an election cycle,” said Cusack, who is from the city.

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