Just hours before the city of Chicago released a video of the killing of 17-year old Laquan McDonald on Tuesday evening, a white Chicago Police Department (CPD) Officer, Jason Van Dyke, who shot a black teenager 16 times in emptying his service revolver last year, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, reported the Chicago Tribune.
City of Chicago officials and community leaders have been bracing for the release of the dash-cam video, fearing unrest that beset the cities of Baltimore, Maryland, and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody.
A Cook County Circuit judge ordered that the recording be put out before Wednesday. Moments before the footage was made public Tuesday evening, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy appealed for calm.
“People have a right to be angry. People have a right to protest. People have a right to free speech. But they do not have a right to … criminal acts,” Police Superintendent McCarthy said.
The campaign of Hillary Clinton for President released the following statement about the shooting of Laquan McDonald and the release of the dashcam video:
The family of Laquan McDonald and the people of Chicago deserve justice and accountability. As criminal charges proceed in this case, we also have to grapple as a country with broader questions about ensuring that all our citizens and communities are protected and respected. The mothers I met recently in Chicago are right: we cannot go on like this. All over America, there are police officers honorably doing their duty, demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from and build on those examples. The loss of so many young African Americans taken too soon should reaffirm our commitment to press forward for progress.
Reaction to the release was swift from political figures. U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL2) released the following statement, reacting to the release on Tuesday of the CPD dashcam video, recording the shooting of Laquan McDonald:
I cannot begin to fully express the depth of my outrage at the senseless killing of Laquan McDonald. The video is nothing short of horrific. I offer my condolences to the McDonald family, for whom the pain of losing their loved one has undoubtedly been compounded by having his death on public display.
Yet as horrifying as the video of his death is, it needed to be made public because the lingering questions surrounding this case are equally as disturbing. The community is right to demand straightforward answers to those questions. And I fully support this quest for truth.
In our quest for the truth, we know that every profession has its bad apples that are rotten to the core. This includes law enforcement officers overstepping its boundaries or politicians in public service violating the public trust, those bad apples must be removed as to not spoil the whole bunch.
I have been encouraged by the young activists of Chicago who have been at the forefront of the call for justice for Laquan and their positive and productive movement for change. It’s an example I hope all Chicagoans will follow in helping to create a fairer, more equitable system of justice for us all.
Statement by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle On the LaQuan McDonald Case:
My heart goes out to the family of LaQuan McDonald. I cannot begin to understand the grief felt by LaQuan’s family and friends. We cannot ease their pain but we can demand accountability. While we cannot yet know all the facts of the case, delay and obstruction have prevented justice from being carried out. I commend Judge Valderamma for demanding the release of the dashcam video. However, I am dismayed that we had to rely on his intervention and that only after his decision was the officer involved charged. There is no doubt the video will be incredibly difficult to view, but it is the only way to move forward. My hope is that this allows us not only to heal, but to work together towards a more just and accountable criminal justice system.
35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa Statement on Murder of Laquan McDonald
His name was Laquan McDonald. He was 17 years old. Like many of you, it’s taken me time to process Laquan’s horrific murder and his harrowing final moments. There are no words. I am deeply saddened. I am deeply upset. May the justice that was denied to Laquan now prevail in the courtroom. I am committed to working with restorative justice advocates, civil liberties experts, and Black community leaders to address the institutional ills that denied Laquan McDonald the dignity and justice he deserved.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois released a statement regarding the video release, urging calm and asking for “productive discussion” about Chicago police interactions with the public.
The anger and frustration expressed by many African-American residents of Chicago in viewing the video is understandable. Members of the African-American community have seen mistreatment and, sadly, violence at the hands of the police for too long in the city,” the organization said in a release. “We hope that we can seize this moment to improve all aspects of policing, with a commitment toward creating better relations between the public and police.
In the days to come, investigations will continue as to the delay in releasing the dashcam video and a possible coverup by police and authorities.