Marchers circle City Hall over Laquan McDonald case

December 7, 2015
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Chants of “16 shots and a cover-up” engulfed the streets outside Chicago’s City Hall as more than 150┬ápeople marched around the building Friday for police shooting victim Laquan McDonald.

The march was yet another sign of protest over the Nov. 24thr elease of the police dash-cam video showing the teen being shot 16 times by police officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014.

Friday’s protesters marched around City Hall 16 times, many carrying signs and chanting for justice. Stopping each time at the the building’s LaSalle Street front entrance, the crowd counted to 16 before continuing.

A coalition of community residents, elected officials, clergy and business leaders are calling for a federal investigation into McDonald’s case. Sunday, the U.S. Department of Justice said it plans a “far-ranging” investigation of the Chicago Police Department.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who charged Van Dyke with first-degree murder only a day before the video’s release should be investigated, along with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the police department, residents and activists insist.

The mayor fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy last week, days after Van Dyke was charged in the teen’s killing.

Led by Rev. Jesse Jackson and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, marchers Friday continued their call for a special prosecutor to take over the Van Dyke case and out of Alvarez’s hands.

Danielle McCain of Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an organization of law firms that handles civil rights cases pro bono, said Alvarez should step down.

“We have grave concerns about how everything was handled and the length of time it took to prosecute the police officer, so we support efforts for her to be recused or removed from office,” McCain said.

Former 37th Ward aldermanic candidate Maretta Brown-Miller said the march was not just for Laquan McDonald but all children.

“Our kids are not just shooting targets out here,” said Brown-Miller, who works for the Chicago Park District’s Planning and Development Department. “We want justice. We want the police to hear us. I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother. This is very passionate for me.”

Since the release of the McDonald video, protesters and activists have demanded the release of all other police-involved shooting videos captured on squad car dash cams. Protesters have accused Emanuel, Alvarez and the police department with conspiring to keep these videos from the public and protecting the officers involved in these shootings.

The City Council’s Black Caucus members called for McCarthy’s ouster in October. The $5 million approved by the council in April for McDonald’s family in hopes of keeping the footage under wraps is also part of the cover-up, protesters said.

Emanuel on Thursday said the city will release sometime this week the shooting footage of Ronald Johnson III, who was shot and killed by officer George Hernandez on the South Side just eight days after McDonald’s killing. Late last week, Alvarez said her office is exploring possible criminal charges against Hernandez.

Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin who was among Friday’s marchers, said the expected release of the Johnson shooting would have never happened if not for community pressure.

“It does not make any sense that he would endorse the blue code of silence and suppress all of these tapes and keep these officers working that are murdering people,” Acree said.

“It’s so hypocritical for the mayor to come to the neighborhoods and tell young men in our community to speak up and put their lives on the line while his own cops zip their lips when there is obvious murders right in their view,” Acree said, referring to the several other officers who were present during McDonald’s shooting that the public has yet to hear from.

Former Mandell Church pastor Greg Livingston said Friday’s march was meant to keep the pressure on Emanuel.

“I think they all defrauded the public. They were all involved in this cover-up,” Livingston said.

“Chicagoans are not stupid. This doesn’t make sense on any level. Four-hundred days, 16 shots, the top officials not knowing, $5 million in hush-money – how much more do we need to have explained to us before we all just say, ‘They gotta go.'”

 

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