The Laquan McDonald Case: Chicago’s Need For Justice

Protesters March Through Chicago Demanding Justice for Laquan McDonald.

Chicago is burning with a promise to choke the injustice, pain and suffering caused by systemic abuse by the police in this city and throughout the U.S. over and over again, Americans are revisiting this phenomena of police brutality and outright murders. It is like an infectious disease. The list is too long to recount here: from Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown to Laquan McDonald.

Laquan McDonald, 17 years old, was murdered over a year ago by a Chicago policeman named Jason Van Dyke, an officer of 14 years. He shot Laquan 16 times: twice in the back and an additional 14 more shots, demonstrating that he considered McDonald’s life as valueless (and most minority groups in America as well, particularly African Americans) as McDonald laid squirming in agony on the ground.

These perpetrators distort the truth – they lie, they cover-up. Recently released video footage shows Laquan walking away from officers and not attacking them, as originally claimed by police a little over a year ago. This calculated evil referred to as a cover up includes 86 minutes of a Burger King security camera allegedly deleted by law enforcement. This reprehensible act was accompanied by police sending witnesses home rather than interviewing them.

Racism and brutality appear to be attributes rewarded when it comes to law enforcement in the United States. Throughout his 14-year service, Officer Van Dyke had 18 complaints filed against him, yet managed to retain his job. His abominable record tragically culminated in the senseless and horrific murder, in cold blood, of someone’s child.

Van Dyke is now being charged with murder in the first degree, coming more than a year after the murder occurred. Judge Franklin Valderrama of Cook County ordered the city to make the video footage public only after a journalist filed a freedom of information request. The murder charge was announced prior to the video’s public release to avoid potentially violent protests resulting from the video footage. On the announcement of the video’s release, Mayor Rahm Emanuel stated, “We hold our police officers to high standards and obviously in this case Jason Van Dyke violated … basic moral standards that bind our community together.”

If only these high standards were upheld unequivocally for all law enforcement at all times, perhaps Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Mike Brown and countless others would not be dead. It is also hoped that McDonald and his family will receive more justice than that of fellow Chicagoan and police murder victim Rekia Boyd and her family. Though the officer who shot her was indicted, he was eventually cleared of charges.