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Mayor defends Ald. Brookins’ right to criticize cops but defend gang member

Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st)

Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st)

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Updated: April 7, 2013 6:29AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday defended Ald. Howard Brookins’ simultaneous right to be a defense attorney representing gang members and an alderman turning up the heat on Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to reduce gang violence.

Emanuel washed his hands of what Brookins (21st) considers a blistering and unfair attempt to dirty up and shut up the chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus by portraying him as a political hypocrite.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported Sunday that Brookins was “undermining police action” against the gang violence triggering Chicago’s homicide rate by “talking out of both sides of his mouth.”

Sneed reported that Brookins recently got 2010 gun charges dismissed against Kerry Stinson, 46, described in police reports as a member of the Gangster Disciples/Black P Stone nation with a lengthy arrest record.

On Tuesday, Emanuel was asked whether Brookins’ legal defense of a known gang member should disqualify the alderman from criticizing McCarthy’s performance in the never-ending battle against gang violence.

“The alderman, I know, cares deeply about bringing public safety throughout this city and, particularly, to his constituents. Every alderman is allowed their opinion and a view. He’s representing his constituents. What he does privately is his choice. I believe in Ald. Brookins,” Emanuel said.

The mayor noted that Brookins was a strong supporter of a 2013 city budget that increased funding for an array of programs that provide after-school summer jobs and free eye care for kids.

“Ald. Brookins believes firmly in that. He also believes … in the role of parenting and giving these kids a value system of knowing right from wrong,” the mayor said.

“He has done a good job as an alderman representing his constituents. He has a right to speak up and a right to do what he does privately.”

Brookins welcomed the mayor’s support and said he blames “someone at the Police Department” — not Emanuel or his political operatives — for the failed attempt to discredit and silence him.

“It definitely won’t have a chilling effect on me speaking out about crime within our communities,” Brookins said.

“I live in the community. The people who are disproportionately affected are African Americans. By owning homes and businesses, we have a vested interest in seeing crime go down almost by any means. For someone to say, ‘Because you’re a criminal defense attorney, that somehow disqualifies you from saying you want crime to go down’ is ludicrous.”

Brookins noted that the example used to discredit him includes an “innocent” man.

“I could see if they had picked somebody I might have represented who was clearly guilty and shot a cop. But why would they pick somebody who was not guilty? Why can’t they accept the fact that he had a right to competent representation and that was found not guilty?” Brookins said.

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