On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stood before students at the prestigious all-male Urban Prep Charter Academy in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago expecting to be welcomed with open arms. However, this time, the high-schoolers interrupted Emanuel by chanting “16 shots” repeatedly at the close of his address.

Upon hearing the chanting, Mayor Emanuel swiftly exited the premises. In response, the student continued their demonstration.

The “16 shots” reference has become a rallying cry of those in the movement protesting the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in October of 2014. The Black teen was shot 16 times, execution style, resulting in his death.

The Mayor’s Office, Chicago Police, and the State Attorney’s Office have been roundly criticized since McDonald’s murder for their mishandling of the case. This in addition to their poor response following the release of video footage of the killing just before Thanksgiving. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was removed from office shortly after the release of the footage.

Mayor Emanuel was at Urban Prep giving a talk on his “citywide strategy” for increasing opportunities for young people of color in Chicago. He was announcing his local cabinet for the My Brother’s Keeper mentorship initiative seeded by President Obama.

The reaction to his visit has been highlighted particularly because the Urban Prep Academies are known for their etiquette training and refinement standards. The Urban Prep Charter Academy requires that students wear ties and formal jackets to school. The school, which also has campuses in Bronzeville and University Park, boasts 100% graduation rate and 100% college placement for their students. But, even these “respectable” aspects of the high school were not enough to shield Emanuel from the ire of the very accomplished and very woke student body.

Following the event, the Mayor’s Office released a statement:

“The Mayor recognizes that Chicagoans are understandably frustrated. He has called for systemic reform to bring safety to every community and rebuild trust where it has been lost. As part of that process he will continue to engage with residents, police, and community leaders to address their specific concerns.”

This event is one of many where Chicago residents – primarily those of color – have openly criticized Mayor Emanuel.


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