Let me just state the obvious here: There are a lot of people in Chicago personally mad at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) for police troubles in their city.
A top Emanuel aide was punched and kicked on one side of Chicago; on the other side, people are hurling insults outside the mayor's home, report William Wan and Mark Guarino in a story that ran in The Washington Post over the weekend.
Most poignantly, the two reporters talked to an angry former Emanuel supporter, 20-year-old Ja'Mal Green, who "spent hours in bone-cold weather on the sidewalk outside the mayor’s spacious Ravenswood home, mocking him and urging him to resign."
"Oh, it’s personal, all right," Green said. "We’re making it personal."
To drive this point home a little further, here are scenes from more protests in the city:
After reading The Post's story and watching that video above, ask yourself: Is there any way Chicagoans upset with police violence can be convinced their mayor is the solution to their problems?
I'd argue the opposite is true; these protesters seem to think booting the mayor is the answer to cleaning up Chicago's police force. And they're getting more and more vocal about it as time ticks on, despite all of Emanuel's efforts to hold himself and the police force accountable for recent deadly shootings.
This presents a troubling reality for Emanuel: Fairly or not, he has become a symbol for what's wrong with Chicago's police. It's not just that they are mad this happened on his watch; he is increasingly viewed as the problem. And he's has become the target for residents' frustrations with the police in a way other city leaders who have presided over similar unrest have not.
And that's the worst-case scenario for a mayor who now, more than ever, needs to earn his people's trust to try to lead his city out of this crisis -- and keep his job.
Emanuel, a former congressman and President Obama's first chief of staff, is actually quite good at steering a ship in a storm, say his allies.
"No one leads through a crisis better than Rahm,” Sarah Feinberg, one of Emanuel’s closest former aides in Congress and the White House, told Wan and Guarino. “He understands that these moments, tough as they are, are the ones that ultimately lead to transformative change.”
And Emanuel, who was first elected in 2011 and won his second term in April, didn't create the systemic policing problems that have come to a head in his city after his office was ordered by a judge to release a graphic video in November showing a white police officer, nearly a year earlier, shooting 16 times and killing a black teen.
The officer involved pleaded not guilty in December to murder charges related to 17-year-old Laquan McDonald's death.
But the mayor didn't help ease tensions between residents and police, nor his reputation as a commander-in-crisis, when he appeared to resist full-scale reforms nearly every step of the way after the McDonald shooting video was released.
Emanuel eventually fired the city's police chief, personally apologized in an emotional speech to the full city council and welcomed a federal civil rights investigation while instituting police training reforms, like doubling the number of Tasers available to officers.
But as I've argued before, it might have all been too late for city residents whose frustrations over policing have been simmering for awhile and finally boiled to the surface this winter. They want something done, and Emanuel's ouster is the most tangible and immediate thing available.
Emanuel's supporters argue this all simply happened under his watch and that he wasn't directly involved. Whether or not that's true, there is a valid argument to make that getting rid of him -- which is politically difficult -- won't magically fix Chicago's problems.
Wan and Guarino: "If Rahm were to resign, Chicago would only move from one chaos to another chaos,” Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), an influential member of Chicago’s black community, wrote in a recent letter to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We have at this time a critical point to bargain for real change.”
But keeping Emanuel around isn't helping the situation either. It seems that the longer Emanuel stays in office, the longer people in Chicago point to him as the problem. And that's a very tough situation to emerge from.