Chicago Shooting Drives Calls For Emanuel To Go, So Far Without Result Protesters angry about the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the hands of Chicago police say the mayor should resign. But Emanuel is weathering the crisis, and a recall effort faces obstacles.
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Chicago Shooting Drives Calls For Emanuel To Go, So Far Without Result

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Chicago Shooting Drives Calls For Emanuel To Go, So Far Without Result

Chicago Shooting Drives Calls For Emanuel To Go, So Far Without Result

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's turn now to Chicago where it has been a rough time for the mayor, Rahm Emanuel. He is known so well for his political savvy. But right now, people are calling for him to resign. If he won't, some people say there should be a recall law that would allow voters to oust him. At the moment, there is no sign that Rahm Emanuel is going anywhere, as NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: On the defensive is not a phrase often associated with the mayor of Chicago, but ever since the city released a videotape of a fatal police shooting, that's the best way to describe Rahm Emanuel.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Rahm must go.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Rahm must go. Rahm must go.

CORLEY: There have been protests in Chicago for weeks. Demonstrators have gathered downtown and even in front of the mayor's house. The protests began after a judge ordered the city to release a 2014 dashcam video showing a Chicago police officer firing 16 shots and killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. McDonald was holding a knife while walking away from police.

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UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Sixteen shots and it's covered up. Sixteen shots and it's covered up.

CORLEY: Demonstrators like 16-year-old Lamon Reccord charge Emanuel withheld the video until his re-election, a charge the mayor denies. But Reccord says Emanuel badly mishandled the McDonald case.

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LAMON RECCORD: You failed the people behind me. You failed the people in front of me. You failed the people around me throughout the city of Chicago. We need you to step down.

LAURA WASHINGTON: The outcry that you're seeing against this mayor is like nothing I've seen before. It's broad-based. It's intense. And it doesn't seem to be going away.

CORLEY: That's political analysts and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington, who says even though Emanuel may seem vulnerable right now, there's nobody lobbying to take over his job.

WASHINGTON: I've talked to a lot of people who were saying, you know - who don't like Rahm, who thinks he's failed the city in many ways - but who say he's the best we've got right now. And they're afraid of what the alternative might be.

CORLEY: Ask Rahm Emanuel, though, if he'd ever consider considered not finishing his four-year term, and his response is a short no. He recently told reporters that he's working every day to rebuild the public's trust in him.

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RAHM EMANUEL: First of all, my actions will be a piece of that. My words and the follow-through on my words to make sure those actions are essential. And the primary work is to make sure that when it relates to public safety that there is trust between the community and our police department.

CORLEY: Any vacancy in the mayor's office before the next election, three years from now, would mean Chicago aldermen would elect one of their own to fill the spot. But most city aldermen largely march in lockstep with the mayor. But a Democratic state lawmaker Representative La Shawn Ford is working to develop a recall measure.

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LA SHAWN FORD: No one - and I don't think voters in a democracy - should have to wait for the next election or be stuck with an elected official that they don't want.

CORLEY: And the state's Republican governor Bruce Rauner supports the idea.

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BRUCE RAUNER: I would sign that bill.

CORLEY: But few Democrats here back it. And it's not likely to go far since two Chicago aldermen would also have to support it. Even so, support for Emanuel is dwindling, especially among African-Americans upset over record school closings and police shootings. So, at a fever pitch, Emanuel's trying to repair the damage, forcing the resignation of the police superintendent and initiating police reforms. At a press conference this week, he touted the expansions of a job training program for ex-offenders.

Illinois Congressman Danny Davis says the politically astute Emanuel will determine what he has to do to regain the confidence of the community.

DANNY DAVIS: I think he's working at it. He's going places that perhaps he didn't go, talking to people that he didn't talk with, coming up with ideas and thoughts.

CORLEY: All changes, Davis says, that will serve the mayor well. But there is still an angry mood here. On Chicago's West Side, police shot and killed a 19-year-old man the day after Christmas and accidentally shot his neighbor, 55-year-old Betty Jones. At Jones's funeral this week, the family thanked Mayor Emanuel and other dignitaries for their support. But as people left the church, a prayer turned into a protest with a chant blasting the CPD, the Chicago Police Department.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Who killed Betty Jones?

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: CPD.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Who killed Betty Jones?

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: CPD.

CORLEY: For Chicago, it's a troubling time. And the city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, remains in a mode he may be less familiar with, survival.

Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.

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