Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Emanuel Proud of Chicago

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chicago's mayor says the 2012 NATO Summit boosted the city's profile in the world and expresses gratitude to citizens and first responders for how they handled a stressful weekend. (Published Monday, May 21, 2012)

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel used his first public comments since the NATO summit began to thank Chicago, its residents and businesses, especially its police officers for how they acted during a stressful weekend. 

    "I want to take a special moment to thank all of our men and women in uniform," Emanuel said. "They did a great job under stressful circumstances.  ... at the end of Randolph street,  I shook hands with 400-500 of them and thanked them personally."

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    He said Chicago provided a roadmap on how to stage an event of this scale.

    "If Seattle in 1999 was an example of what not to do, I think Chicago in 2012 is an example of what to do. The police department handled themselves with discipline and professionalism."

    When asked about images of protesters who were beaten and arrested, Emanuel drew a distinction between peaceful protesters -- such as nurses and war veterans -- and the Black Bloc anarchist disruptors.

    "Don't lump them together," he said.

    Emanuel even gave a pass to a group of protesters that marched on his home, saying it was their first amendment right, and that he was never feared the movements. 

    "I'm not concerned about my safety," he said. "My concern is for the people of Chicago and that's my responsibility. The people who are responsible for my safety are very good."

    Not wanting to linger on protests, Emanuel shifted the focus to foreign delegations, and how many allies the city has made during the weekend of events. He talked glowingly about the impression the City of Chicago left on visiting dignitaries -- many of whom made their first visit to Chicago.

    "I can't tell you how many times world leaders commented on the beauty of our city, and how clean our city is," the mayor said.

    Prime Minister David Cameron, he said, came to Chicago for the first time. Not only did he take in the beauty of the city from the City Hall rooftop, and held a press conference from there. Emanuel said he also met with the Prime Minister of Netherlands, who was here for the first time, too. The two leaders talked about making Chicago the American hub of flower trade, he said.

    The prime minister of Spain, who also made his first trip to Chicago, took an architecture tour, and marveled at Chicago's beauty, Emanuel said.

    All of this led to enhanced trade opportunities and increased tourism potential.

    Emanuel would like to focus on tourism.

    "We're 10th in tourism. We're fighting below our weight class," he said. "If we move up to 9th, that's 25,000 jobs."

    "I think hosting the largest NATO summit in its 60 year history shows that we've reached another milestone in our history. By hosting the NATO summit we have reinforced, reaffirmed and revitalized our role in the world."