Civil rights activist Al Sharpton wants Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to step down amid mounting criticism over the delay in releasing video evidence of a high-profile shooting and the continuing controversy surrounding police-involved shootings in Chicago. 

“He’s gone beyond the point where he can govern with the trust of the people,” Sharpton said Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Sharpton, a minister and MSNBC host, runs the civil rights group National Action Network.

“I think the people have to make that decision, but certainly from where I sit, he should,” Sharpton added when asked if Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, should step down.


The rash of criticism began just before Thanksgiving, when Chicago police released a video of officers shooting and killing Laquan McDonald 16 times. McDonald, a 17-year-old black man, held a knife but was at a distance from the officer when he was shot.

The video wasn’t released until more than a year after the incident, and reports say the police deleted surveillance video from a nearby fast food restaurant.

Sharpton noted the accusations that Emanuel’s administration withheld the tape during his mayoral reelection and questioned why the mayor is still on vacation in Cuba with his family.

“I’ve never seen this kind of detachment in the years that I’ve been fighting, whether I got along with the mayor or not,” he said. 

“This is the height of either insensitivity, lack of intelligence, or arrogance or a reasonable combination of all three."

He also questioned the Chicago police’s conduct in a recent police shooting that accidentally killed a 55-year-old grandmother, calling the incident a “crisis on steroids.” Police noted in a statement that the grandmother should not have been shot. Officers had been responding to a domestic disturbance and also killed a 19-year-old man who may have been mentally ill, according to various media reports.

In a statement, Emanuel called for an independent investigation as well as “clear changes [in] how officers respond to mental health crises," according to CNN.

Sharpton’s criticism extended to the state’s governor, Bruce Rauner, whom he also accused of dithering in a lack of response to the shootings.

“You wouldn’t even know he’s governor ever since the McDonald situation,” Sharpton said, noting that the governor hasn’t signaled openness to appointing a special prosecutor for that shooting and other officer-involved shootings.