As hundreds of protesters walked through the heart of Chicago’s shopping districts Wednesday, calling for the removal of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a state representative introduced legislation to open the door to a potential recall of the embattled mayor.
La Shawn Ford, a Democrat, introduced a bill Wednesday that would provide a mechanism to recall the mayor. State Rep. Mary Flowers, also a Democrat, signed on as a co-sponsor Wednesday afternoon.
The legislation would amend a 1941 law to create “a procedure for an election to recall the Mayor of Chicago,” and the bill proposes that change would be “effective immediately,” if passed by the legislature. Legal experts say there is no current mechanism under state law to recall a mayor. A 2010 referendum does allow Illinois voters to recall a governor – that process includes voters and a request from multiple members of the legislature.
Emanuel has faced criticism after the release of a dashcam video that showed the police shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Emanuel fired his police superintendent amid protests over the shooting. The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday announced a federal investigation into the city’s police department.
Emanuel insists he will not to step down. “I am the mayor. As I said the other day, I own it. I take responsibility for what happened, because it happened on my watch,” he said in a speech Wednesday to the Chicago City Council. “If we’re also going to begin the healing process,” Emanuel said in a speech Wednesday, at times appearing emotional. “The first step in that journey is my step. And I’m sorry.”
The Speaker of the Illinois House, Michael Madigan, is a Democrat and chairs the state party. He boosted Emanuel’s recent campaign by providing support through his field operation – although he did not endorse Emanuel in his first election to replace longtime Mayor Richard Daley.
Emanuel was elected in fairly close a run-off election in April.