The city of Chicago is currently engulfed in protest, in the wake of the release of a pair of disturbing videos showing the 2014 police shooting of Laquan McDonald and the 2012 jail cell tasing of the late Philip Coleman. Both videos have stirred a considerable amount of uproar and outrage, and it's forced some resignations. Multiple police officials within the Chicago Police Department have resigned since Sunday, including Chief of Detectives Constantine Andrews. But could the city's top dog actually follow suit? Will Rahm Emanuel resign as mayor of Chicago?
Emanuel, 56, formerly served as a House representative from Illinois, then as White House Chief of Staff in the early years of the Obama administration. He was elected Chicago's mayor in 2011, and since then, he's weathered a lot of criticism — over his approach on education, on public services, and perhaps most forcefully now on policing. And simply put, it seems as though the people of Chicago wouldn't mind seeing him go. As USA Today details, a recent poll (commissioned by a newsletter of the Illinois Observer) told a pretty startling tale: Apparently, 51 percent of Chicagoans would like to see Emanuel resign.
The reason the opposition has hit a fever pitch is surely the McDonald video. City officials, from Emanuel himself to those in the police department, have been struggling to adequately respond to and explain the shocking footage since it was released late last month. In the event you haven’t seen the video, you can watch it here, but be forewarned — it depicts somebody being shot 16 times, mostly while lying motionless on the ground.
It’s extremely graphic and disturbing, and completely contradicts the description of the encounter given by the police right after it happened. At the time, police union chief Pat Camden claimed that McDonald had lunged toward the officer who shot him, Jason Van Dyke, with a knife in his hand. In reality, McDonald was several feet away from the officers, and moving away from them when he was fatally shot.
Though the officer responsible has since been charged with murder, anti-police-violence activists have decried the largely opaque process that played out prior to now. Indeed, some people believe that justice never would have been done if not for the video of the incident, and the fact that details of the case were reportedly leaked by a whistleblower inside the CPD.
All these facts, and Emanuel's stewardship over the whole process, have led many protesters to demand his resignation. He insisted that he's not going anywhere in an interview with Politico last week, saying that the voters made their choice in the last election. And sadly (from the protesters' perspective, at least), there's nothing to stop him from sticking around. While mayors or governors resigning amid public pressure is nothing new, there's no recourse for the public if Emanuel decides to stay put, come hell or high water. That's because, as detailed by the Better Government Association, the city of Chicago has no recall system. So Emanuel's job is effectively safe and secure until the next election. And if you're keeping count, that's going to be a while — he won reelection in February of 2015, meaning it'll be more than three years before Chicago voters get to pick a new mayor.