Chicago, IL

Chicago Black Caucus Demands Resignation of Mayor Johnson's Floor Leader for Harassing Alderwoman

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa attempted to prevent Ald. Emma Mitts from entering City Hall during special Council meeting
Ald. Emma MittsPhoto byWikimedia Commons [CC0]

The Black Caucus of the Chicago City Council denounced the behavior of Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), the floor leader of Mayor Brandon Johnson, on Saturday. They claimed that he attempted to physically and verbally abuse Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), a member of the Caucus, during a tumultuous Council meeting last week.

The Caucus, which consists of 20 out of the 50 Chicago Council members, issued a statement calling out the “bullying” by Ramirez-Rosa against Mitts, who is the longest serving woman in the chamber. “Alderman Ramirez-Rosa’s actions of physical and verbal harassment have let down our council and the people of Chicago,” the statement said.

The Caucus members also said that the incident was “an unfortunate and direct reminder of the decades of challenges that African-American women serving in City Council have had to overcome in our combined efforts to enhance the upward mobility of our collective communities.”

Ramirez-Rosa, who is also the chair of the influential Chicago Zoning Committee, did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Johnson’s office also did not answer questions about the first signs of major trouble brewing for him on the council floor less than six months into his tenure.

The latest Council division highlights racial tensions in a city that is struggling with how to accommodate a large influx of migrants from the Southern border of the United States while addressing generations of disinvestment in Chicago’s Black communities.

Ramirez-Rosa is accused of trying to prevent Mitts from the Council floor on Thursday in order to avoid a quorum of alderpeople from being in the chamber, as part of an effort to end a special Council meeting called by Alds. Anthony Beale (9th) and Ray Lopez (15th).

Those two Johnson critics had pushed for the meeting to consider putting an advisory referendum on the March ballot asking voters if Chicago should remain a sanctuary city.

After the meeting was adjourned in a confused parliamentary mess, Lopez, in a social media post, said he “had to physically position” himself between the floor leader and Mitts, “physically pushing him back until she was able to break free.”

Mitts has not yet commented publicly on the interaction.

Her Black Caucus colleagues called her “a pillar of strength, courage, and inspiration to many black women who aspire to become responsible and effective government leaders.”

A spokesman for the Chicago Black Caucus said all 20 members were calling for Ramirez-Rosa to give up his leadership positions, “publicly acknowledge what he did,” apologize to Mitts and “take steps to remedy his actions.”

Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) joined the Caucus members and Lopez on Saturday in calling for Ramirez-Rosa to give up his posts due to what Villegas labeled “overt bullying and threatening tactics.”

Chicago Black Caucus member Ald. Jeanette Taylor (20th) — a staunch Johnson ally and a Democratic Socialist Caucus member alongside Ramirez-Rosa — said the accused Council member “can’t be in leadership and not have self-control.”

“He has a responsibility as floor leader to protect and talk to everyone on the Council,” Taylor said in a phone interview. “Carlos has done some good things, but apparently he’s under a different pressure, and he shouldn’t be in these positions if he can’t control himself when somebody disagrees with him. It’s not cool. It’s not OK.”

“The way we’re practicing democracy right now is kind of sick to me,” Taylor said. “I don’t like it. It’s scary.”

The Council is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday.

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Chicago, IL

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