Hundreds of Protesters Hit Chicago Streets After Video of Laquan McDonald Killing Is Released
Hundreds of protesters blocked major Chicago intersections Tuesday and plan to continue demonstrations in the next several days following the release of a dash cam video showing police shooting Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old African-American teen, 16 times in 2014. Five people were arrested in the protests, including a well-known poet and Black Youth Project organizer Malcolm London. A boycott on Black Friday at a well-known shopping strip called Magnificent Mile is also expected, NBC News reports.
The graphic footage released Tuesday evening shows McDonald walking in the middle of the street. Police fired shots which struck the teen. He fell onto the ground and did not move. Several more shots were fired into his body. None of the police on the scene appeared to help McDonald after he was sprayed with the bullets. At no point did McDonald approach police in the video. He appeared to be walking in a direction away from them the entire time.
After a press conference Tuesday evening before the release of the video, Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged demonstrators to keep their reactions non-violent. “It’s fine to be passionate, but it is essential that it remain peaceful,” Emanuel said, according to the New York Times.
Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the killing of McDonald in 2014. Dyke was still an officer on paid desk duty as of Tuesday. It is rare that an officer in the city faces a murder charge for an on-duty shooting.
A Cook County judge ordered the video of the shooting be released. The shooting death of McDonald did not receive major media attention when it happened in 2014, but the case has now reached national headlines.
"Police officers are entrusted to uphold the law and to provide safety to our residents," Mayor Emanuel said in a statement, according to the Chicago Tribune. "In this case unfortunately, it appears an officer violated that trust at every level."
The video footage conflicts with initial police reports. McDonald was reportedly walking in the Archer Heights neighborhood and refused to drop a folding knife after an officer commanded him to do so, authorities stated in the original report. Additionally, Van Dyke said he opened fire because he feared for his life in that moment.
The city of Chicago recently granted McDonald's family $5 million in settlement money.
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(Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune via AP Photo)