CHICAGO — Amid ongoing protests in the city of Chicago, an Illinois state legislator who introduced a bill that would allow Rahm Emanuel to be removed from office by a recall vote says city residents feel abandoned by the embattled mayor.
“We have not seen the tip of the iceberg yet,” Rep. La Shawn Ford said on Thursday, saying voters had lost “trust and confidence” in the mayor.
“People are hurt, people have died, people feel that they are forgotten about in the city of Chicago,” the Chicago Democrat added.
Legislation drafted by Ford would revise a 1941 law and create a ballot procedure for voters in the city to petition for Emanuel’s ouster. He said he hadn’t wanted to introduce his recall measure but constituents were demanding it.
Emanuel, a former congressman and chief of staff to President Barack Obama, has come under fire for his handling of the city’s police force, which the Department of Justice announced on Tuesday would be subject to a federal investigation.
In a statement, Emanuel’s office brushed off the prospect of a recall election, saying “the mayor’s focus is not on his own personal politics.”
Ford, however, expects the pressure — and protests — to grow.
“Until there is real change and real reform in the way the city of Chicago is operating, I don’t think people are going to let up,” he said. “People are not going to let up because this is the moment the people who really fight for justice and equality in Chicago have been waiting for.
“Right now, the city is disturbed, the city is all messed up right now.”
Thursday night, protesters again took to the streets of Chicago, as they have since the release of dashcam footage that shows the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
They marched from the Chicago Federal Building to City Hall, passing downtown stores. Some demonstrators lay down in protest. Others carried placards and chanted.
With pressure on the mayor growing, the often-caustic Emanuel struck a conciliatory tone when he addressed the Chicago City Council on Wednesday.
“I own it,” he said, at times appearing emotional. “I take responsibility for what happened, because it happened on my watch. … If we’re also going to begin the healing process … the first step in that journey is my step. And I’m sorry.”
But Ford was not impressed.
“What I felt while watching it and after watching it,” he said, “is that we had a mayor that was elected to govern the city, yet he was surprised by how the city operated.”
Video showing the shooting of 17-year-old McDonald, which eventually led to a first degree murder charge against Officer Jason Van Dyke, was withheld from the public and only released after a court order. Emanuel, who won a second term after a run-off election this spring, has since fired the city’s superintendent of police.
Emanuel’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.