Call for political action after Laquan McDonald cases

4 weeks 2 hours 1 minute ago Sunday, January 20 2019 Jan 20, 2019 Sunday, January 20, 2019 7:23:00 AM CST January 20, 2019 in News
By: The Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Activists and others who were disappointed by the outcome of two historic cases involving the killing 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 less than seven years in prison for McDonald's 2014 death.

Video of Van Dyke firing 16 shots at McDonald as he walked away from the officer prompted protests, a U.S. Justice Department investigation of the Chicago Police Department and the firing of the police superintendent, among other changes. It also was a key piece of evidence in Van Dyke's trial, when a jury last year found him guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery.

The judge's sentence of six years and nine months — less than half of the penalty sought by prosecutors — means the 40-year-old could be released in just over three years. It came a day after a different judge acquitted three other Chicago 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 defeat a five-term alderman in local elections next month 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 announced in 2015, the same day City Hall — under 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 months later, and it's thought 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 group worked with Chicago-area 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.

Color of Change opened an office in downtown Ferguson to support Wesley Bell, who last fall was the first African-American to be elected St. Louis County circuit attorney. Bell's first action after taking office was to remove three veteran assistant prosecutors, including one who played a role in presenting evidence to a grand jury in the case. He's also made policy 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."

Changes implemented in Chicago include a requirement that the city release video of fatal police shootings within 60 days. The city has also changed how police shootings are investigated. The Police Department accelerated a program to equip all officers with body cameras.

And the fact that Van Dyke was charged and convicted is historic — no other Chicago officer has faced the same fate in a half-century. The other three officers are believed to be the first to be charged with covering up a police-involved shooting.

Even as McDonald's great uncle lamented the length of the sentence, he noted the significance.

"If they'd have sentenced him to one minute, it is a victory," the Rev. Martin Hunter said. "It sets a precedent and it sends a strong message to unjust police officers that now you can and will go to jail if you're caught lying, if you're caught breaking the law."

___

Associated Press journalists Don Babwin, Michael Tarm, Noreen Nasir and Teresa Crawford also contributed to this report.

___

For more stories about this case, visit AP's Laquan McDonald hub

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - One man received minor injuries after a fire truck overturned while responding to a call early Sunday morning.... More >>
2 hours ago Sunday, February 17 2019 Feb 17, 2019 Sunday, February 17, 2019 6:49:00 AM CST February 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - It's been 50 years since a historic moment occurred on MU's campus Community members met Saturday... More >>
10 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 10:41:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
OXFORD, MISS. - The Missouri Tigers fell short in Saturday's game against Mississippi, losing 75-65. The Tigers made the... More >>
11 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 10:03:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in Sports
COLUMBIA - City plow crews are continuing to clear snow covered streets as they prepare for more winter weather overnight.... More >>
12 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 9:08:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
STURGEON - A judge ordered the city of Sturgeon to reinstate Greg Halderman as its police chief, according to court... More >>
16 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 5:05:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - One person is dead after a pair of crashes Saturday afternoon. Jordan E. Hoyt, 37, died after... More >>
16 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 4:29:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa opened up the grounds of the Governor's Mansion on Saturday... More >>
17 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 4:13:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA – Money raised at the 14 th annual Rootin’ Tootin’ Chili Cookoff on Saturday afternoon will benefit the Columbia... More >>
17 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 3:42:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Even with slick sidewalks and snowy roads, runners still showed up for Mizzou's Rockin' Against Multiple Sclerosis 5K... More >>
18 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 2:54:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
(CNN) -- Sixty-three more people have been infected with salmonella linked to raw turkey products in an outbreak that began... More >>
20 hours ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 12:27:00 PM CST February 16, 2019 in News
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has defrocked former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick after Vatican officials found him guilty of... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, February 16 2019 Feb 16, 2019 Saturday, February 16, 2019 7:25:00 AM CST February 16, 2019 in News
SARCOXIE, Mo. (AP) — The Jasper County prosecutor on Thursday charged a 23-year-old English teacher at Sarcoxie High School with... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 9:56:18 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Battle High School's Girls Wrestling team will make history by competing in the first high school girls state... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 8:56:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The first snow system has come to an end and two more are on the way in less... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 8:25:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in Weather
COLUMBIA - Despite the treacherous conditions, some people have no choice but to drive in weather like Friday's. "My... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 6:48:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — The Humane Society of Missouri rescued 21 dogs and 21 cats from a property in western Missouri Friday.... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 5:42:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Another winter blast hit Missouri Friday, causing multiple accidents, closing schools and leaving highway experts... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 4:03:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in Top Stories
CALLAWAY COUNTY - A traffic stop for following too close led to troopers seizing oxycodone, THC wax, shatter, a product... More >>
1 day ago Friday, February 15 2019 Feb 15, 2019 Friday, February 15, 2019 3:04:00 PM CST February 15, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 29°
10am 31°
11am 32°
12pm 33°
1pm 33°