Activists discontent with results seek surveys for change
Activists and other who were baffled by the result of two historic cases including the murdering of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white Chicago police officer see a way forward — by turning tragedy into political power.
A judge on Friday sentenced former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke to under seven years in jail for McDonald’s 2014 demise.
Video of Van Dyke discharging 16 shots at McDonald as he walked away from the officer prompted protests, a U.S. Equity Department investigation of the Chicago Police Department and the firing of the police superintendent, among different changes. It was likewise a key bit of proof in Van Dyke’s preliminary, when a jury a year ago discovered him guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery.The judge’s sentence of six years and nine months — not exactly 50% of the punishment looked for by prosecutors — means the 40-year-old could be discharged in a little more than three years. It came a day after an other judge absolved three other Police officers accused of lying about the shooting to protect Van Dyke.
Activist William Calloway, who helped force Mayor Rahm Emanuel to release police video of the shooting, said he and other community members were “heartbroken” by the judges’ decisions, but won’t give up seeking changes.
“If you’re a black Chicagoan, don’t protest. Don’t take to the streets,” he said. “It’s time we take to the polls.”
Calloway is trying to overcome a five-term alderman in local elections next month from now to win a seat on the Chicago City Council. He has criticized the incumbent and other black aldermen for not doing enough to change the culture of a police force that has long had a reputation of racial bias and condoning police brutality.
The McDonald shooting already has been a major factor in Chicago politics.
The charges against Van Dyke were declared in 2015, that day City Hall — under a a judge’s order — released the video.
The case was widely seen as the reason the county’s top prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, was voted out of office a few of months after the fact, and it’s believed to be a factor in Emanuel’s decision not to seek a third term next month.
Roughly a dozen candidates are running to replace him, and almost all of them blasted both judges’ decisions this week and what they said was a lack of accountability for officers who commit crimes while on duty.
“With so many members of our Black and Brown communities criminalized and jailed for non-violent drug offenses, Van Dyke’s sentence today shows that our lives don’t matter,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, a top candidate who’s African-American, said in a written statement.
The impact has extended to communities outside Chicago, said Rashad Robinson, president of the national civil rights organization Color Of Change.
The gathering worked with Chicago-zone activists to unseat Alvarez, with a “Bye, Anita” campaign.It’s also helped elect new district attorneys in places like Philadelphia and in St. Louis County, where a white officer wasn’t charged with the 2014 killing of Michel Brown, a black and unarmed 18-year-old, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Shade of Change opened an office in downtown Ferguson to help Wesley Bell, who the previous fall was the main African-American to be elected St. Louis County circuit lawyer. Chime’s first move subsequent to making office was to expel three veteran assistant prosecutors, including one who assumed a job in displaying proof to a stupendous jury for the situation. He’s likewise made changes, such as ending prosecutions for most marijuana possession cases.
“The killing of Laquan and that video is one of the many catalysts that have sparked this current movement we’re in of prosecutor accountability,” Robinson said. “Our metric of success as a movement can’t solely be based on whether or not police officers go to prison, but that the culture of policing changes in this country.”