Correction: This post initially referred to riots in Chicago. While protesting has been heated, there has not been rioting.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), one of the nation's most high-profile mayors, is the latest city leader to grapple with racial unrest in a city ignited by fatal police brutality against unarmed black citizens.

But the accusations against Emanuel, once President Obama's chief of staff, are a bit more serious than ones other mayors in his shoes have faced this year: Civil rights activists are accusing him of being complicit in a police coverup of the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald — a shooting that led to a murder charge for a Chicago police officer after the video of the shooting was released — and calling for him to resign. He and his leadership team are facing questions about why the video took 13 months to surface, and only then was the officer charged.


"A leader has to be held to account for the code of silence that continues to exist in the Chicago police department," said Chicago civil rights lawyer Craig Futterman, according to the U.S. News & World Report. "He has to acknowledge it and address it."

Emanuel has acknowledged wrongdoing by the officer, Jason Van Dyke, saying at a news conference after the video was released and heated demonstrations broke out that "Van Dkye violated … basic moral standards that bind our community together" — making it clear he thought the officer was a lone bad actor.

But Emanuel hasn't publicly acknowledged or addressed his own political future. And if the fate of mayors facing similar racial unrest is any indication, he'll soon have to.


With the major caveat that each case this year has been different — and Emanuel seems to be facing the most serious allegations of all the cases — here are four options available to him, based on what other mayors in his shoes decided to do:


1. Fire someone high-ranking

This option was forged by Emanuel himself, when on Tuesday he announced he asked the Chicago police chief to resign a week after the incriminating video was released.

“He has become an issue, rather than dealing with the issue, and a distraction," Emanuel said, according to The Post's Mark Berman.

The clear idea here is to hope this mollifies those calling for people to lose their jobs, without it being you.


Emanuel said he's also created a task force to assess police brutality -- saying "they won't be just wallflowers."

But in this high-profile case — a murder charge for an officer is rare in these instances, and the 13-month wait for the public release of the video is particularly troublesome — it might not be enough.

The president and chief executive of the NAACP had this to say Tuesday:


And appearing on MSNBC on Tuesday night, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said, "The police chief should not be the fall guy for this crisis alone."

2. Do a listening tour

The white, part-time mayor of majority-black Ferguson, Mo., declined to go with Option No. 1 two days after a Justice Department report blasted the Ferguson Police Department for long-held racial profiling practices.


Mayor James Knowles said his job was "not to just chop off heads." (Though the police chief and the town manager eventually resigned.)

But Knowles withstood calls for his own job in the unrest after the shooting death of Michael Brown in August 2014. Knowles was widely criticized — along with most political leaders in the state — for a collective failure of leadership.

Adding fuel to his critics was an MSNBC interview Knowles did in the midst of the protests where he said "there's no racial divide here."


Activists called for his ouster, but he refused. They ultimately fell 27 signatures short of forcing Knowles to face a recall election. (Knowles and city officials are also facing a lawsuit initiated by activists requesting the recall be put on the ballot.)


Knowles told USA Today after the recall effort failed that he was sifting through the signatures of people on the petition and planned to reach out soon to conduct a listening tour of sorts.

"I'm hoping we can bridge some gaps, because right now we got to focus on how to bring people together," he said.

3. Hold a roundtable

The protests after a grand jury decided not to indict officers involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner drew attention from Al Sharpton, then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama, who said "This is an American problem."


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called for a special prosecutor to investigate alleged police brutality.


New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who was notably not a target of resignation calls, wound up holding a roundtable with police and political activists where he asked everyone involved to find "mutual respect."

He later issued a statement promising to "ensure proper reforms are enacted to ensure this won't happen again."

4. Step down

Even though she joked that she hadn't lost an election since middle school, Baltimore's first-term mayor surprised her city by announcing she wouldn't seek reelection less than six months after her city erupted in riots after Freddie Gray suffered a spinal injury in the back of a police car in April and later died.


Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, at times her voice quavering, according to the New York Times, announced in September that said she would not seek reelection, because "every moment that I spent planning for a campaign or seeking reelection was time that I was taking away from my current responsibilities to the city."


Like other mayors in her situation, Rawlings-Blake's handling of the riots was not without controversy. In addition to being criticized for letting the city's worst riots since 1968 get out of hand, civil liberties groups were concerned with how long she imposed a curfew afterward. During the riots, Rawlings-Blake said that "we also gave those who wished to destroy [some] space to do that as well," which her office had to clarify was not an endorsement of the property destruction that occurred.

Rawlings-Blake also fired the city's police chief.

As she stepped down herself, Rawlings-Blake made clear what many of the mayors in this story likely have come realize: Police brutality and the ensuing citizen outrage altered their political future drastically.

“You don’t get to choose,” she said. “You play the cards you’re dealt.”