A new poll published on Tuesday shows that more than half of Chicagoans believe Mayor Rahm Emanuel should resign in the aftermath of the release of a police dashboard video that shows a white police officer shooting a black teen 16 times.
More than 51% of likely voters said Emanuel should resign, while 29% said he should not step down, according to the poll commissioned by The Insider, a newsletter published by Illinois Observer.
Only 18% approved of how Emanuel is handling his job and 67% disapproved, according to the poll which was conducted by the Chicago firm Ogden & Fry. Meanwhile, 63.2% of respondents said they did not believe the mayor when he said he did not view the disturbing video of officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald ahead of its public release.
The one-day poll was conducted on Saturday and surveyed 739 respondents from throughout the city.
“Right now, you’re in the middle of a strong emotional response,” said pollster Tom Swiss. “I would be curious to how people are feeling in a month or two months.”
The video of the police shooting was released two weeks ago and has touched off near-daily protests in the city, in which activists have repeatedly called for Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign. Both have said they have no intentions of resigning.
The mayor resisted releasing the video, which shows Van Dyke continually shooting McDonald while he was lying on the ground, but the city was forced by court-order to make it public after being sued by an independent journalist. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder on Nov. 24, the same day as the video’s release.
“The mayor is challenged not by a poll, but the job of addressing a broken system,” said Emanuel campaign spokesman Peter Giangreco. “That is the job this moment in our city demands and one he is absolutely committed to seeing through.”
Police and police union officials had initially said McDonald, who was holding a knife and had PCP in his system, had put Van Dyke’s life in danger and left the officer with no choice but to shoot. At least five other officers at the scene offered statements to investigators that backed up Van Dyke.
The video, however, showed that McDonald was veering away from the officer when he opened fire. The video also appears to contradict officers at the scene who said that McDonald appeared to be trying to get up after Van Dyke first struck him. The officer would continue to shoot for about 13 seconds after McDonald had been struck by the initial gunfire, according to prosecutors.
Swiss noted that while more than two-thirds of respondents disapprove of Emanuel’s job performance, nearly half, at the moment, would prefer he stay in office.
Before the poll was conducted last week, Emanuel fired his police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, and announced that he was creating a blue ribbon task force to bolster police accountability.
Emanuel also said calls for a Justice Department investigation of the police department, prior to the completion of a federal criminal investigation of the McDonald shooting, were “misguided.” The following day he reversed course and welcomed federal involvement. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday announced DOJ’s Civil Rights Division was launching an investigation.
Even before the McDonald shooting controversy, the mayor’s popularity appeared to be waning as the city has struggled to deal with extraordinary financial problems.
A September poll by Ogden & Fry showed that 25% approved of the job Emanuel was doing, while 50.8% disapproved. The poll was conducted as Emanuel was forced to push for a massive property tax hike in the city to help close a hole in the city’s underfunded police and fire department pensions.
SOURCE: USA Today – Aamer Madhani