Chicago officials urge protesters to be ‘peaceful’ as video showing police …

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago policeman charged with murder in shooting black teen 16 times, video released.

In this Oct. 20, 2014 frame from dash-cam video provided by the Chicago Police Department, Laquan McDonald, right, walks down the street moments before being shot by officer Jason Van Dyke in Chicago. (Source: AP) A white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times last year was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday, hours before the city released a video of the killing that many people fear could spark unrest. City officials and community leaders have been bracing for the release of the dash-cam video, fearing the kind of unrest that occurred in cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody. Crowds stopped traffic in downtown Chicago in the hours after the video showing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald being shot dead was made public on judge’s orders. Laquan is seen striding down the middle of a two-way street and appears to be carrying a knife when the dashboard camera of a police patrol vehicle records the moment that two officers point handguns at him.

Fresco Steez of the Black Youth Project 100 later asked reporters to be cognizant of protesters’ “raw” feelings. “Tonight, what we’re having is another instance of a killing, a public lynching of another young black man so we’re asking you to give us some space to process our feeling around that. … Their feelings might be raw,” Steez said. He turns briefly toward one of the officers and is then shot, the impact of the first bullet apparently spinning him around before he collapses on the street. As the sound of sirens filled the air, police were met with shouts of “16 shots” — the number of times an officer fired at Laquan McDonald in October 2014 — and demonstrators taking selfies. Others shouted, “Don’t ask me about a riot when people are dying.” The demonstrators, numbering about 150, were accompanied into the South Loop by a police escort on bicycles and in squad cars. Reporters were directed to download the video from a password-protected website, but the site was apparently overwhelmed with requests, and the footage could not immediately be obtained by The Associated Press.

On Tuesday night activists took up the chant “16 shots” as they formed a human circle at a busy intersection in Chicago. “Right now black people are angry! Earlier Tuesday, parents and guardians of students in Chicago Public Schools received an email from Janice Jackson, the district’s chief education officer, alerting them of the video’s release. “This footage is sure to raise many emotions among our children, and we want you to know that CPS will do everything possible to meet their needs,” Jackson wrote. By 9.30pm there had been no serious escalation, but tensions rose during brief moments of pushing between police officers and protesters, several of whom were detained. She said cases involving police officers present “highly complex” legal issues and she would rather take the time to get it right than “rush to judgment.” “It is graphic.

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. “It is time for real reforms in policing across the city, including better training that emphasizes de-escalation rather than force; increased transparency around police activities; and more public input and oversight of police activities in neighborhoods all across the city of Chicago,” the organization said. Immediately after London was driven away about 75 people began marching west through downtown Chicago towards a highway that runs through the major city where they assembled to disrupt traffic. This is hypocritical.” Others questioned the political motives behind the timing of Van Dyke being charged with murder and McCarthy pushing for the firing of Detective Dante Servin, who was unsuccessfully prosecuted for fatally shooting Rekia Boyd in 2012, so close to the deadline to release the McDonald video. The city’s hurried attempts to defuse tensions also included a community meeting, official statements of outrage at the officer’s conduct and an abrupt announcement Monday night that another officer who has been the subject of protests for months might now be fired. “You had this tape for a year, and you are only talking to us now because you need our help keeping things calm,” the Rev.

In the video, as McDonald veers away from officers, Van Dyke begins firing, felling McDonald immediately, and then shoots repeatedly into his prone body. The court ordered that the city must make the video public no later than Wednesday. “Chicago is not a Ferguson, it’s not a Baltimore,” Hardiman said. “We’re not promoting any violence, but we understand that people are going to be angry.”

Of the eight or more officers on the scene Van Dyke is the only one to have discharged his weapon, although a colleague can be seen with his gun drawn and pointed at McDonald. She said Van Dyke’s actions “were not a proper use of deadly force.” “He abused his authority, and I don’t believe the use of force was necessary,” Alvarez said. She said he opened fire just six seconds after getting out of his vehicle and kept firing even though McDonald dropped to the ground after the initial shots. But they do not have a right to commit criminal acts.” “No one understands the anger more than us but if you choose to speak out, we urge you to be peaceful,” the statement said. “Don’t resort to violence in Laquan’s name.” In April, the Chicago City Council approved a $5 million dollar settlement to McDonald’s relatives. While standing outside the police headquarters Smith’s lawyer Matt Topic was notified by officials via phone that a copy was en route to his office.

But some in the community say they are angry it took Alvarez’s office so long to charge Van Dyke. “There is no way this length of time should have gone on so long when the video showed all this evidence,” Michael Pfleger, a Catholic priest in Chicago, said Tuesday. “Shame on them for being so late.” Chicago is not the only city in American roiled by officer-involved shootings and their aftermath — far from it. The announcement of the murder charge and slow release of details of the video before the actual dashcam footage appeared timed to lessen the chances for violent reactions. Police shootings, propelled into the public eye after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last year, have led to demonstrations in city streets and debates on college campuses across the country. The fears of unrest stem from longstanding tensions between Chicago police and its minority communities, partly due to the department’s reputation for brutality, particularly involving blacks.

Indeed, the rapid developments on Tuesday — an officer charged, a horrific video’s release — recalled similar situations that unfolded this year. Dozens of men, mostly African-American, said they were subjected to torture from a Chicago police squad headed by former commander Jon Burge during the 1970s, `80s and early `90s, and many spent years in prison. Another minister who attended, Jedidiah Brown, said emotions were running so high that there would be no stopping major protests once the video was released. In April 2015 the FBI announced a joint investigation with the Cook county state’s attorney’s office and the city’s Independent Police Review Authority into the shooting.

Police in Minneapolis took three men into custody after gunshots were fired at a “Black Lives Matter” rally, wounding five demonstrators in an attack that inflamed tensions already high over the recent police killing of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man. The shooting Monday night, which occurred one block from a police station that protests had centered around, shook demonstrators who nonetheless said they would not be driven away. “I’m out here to make sure those cowards know that they didn’t scare anybody,” Demetrius Pendleton, 46, who runs a local homeless shelter, said during a march on Tuesday afternoon. “We want to see justice, and we won’t stop until we get it.” In a Facebook post, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said that “white supremacists” attacked the group on Monday night “in an act of domestic terrorism,” and the group vowed not to be intimidated. Police said Tuesday they had three white men in custody: a 23-year-old arrested in Bloomington, a nearby city, as well as a 26-year-old and a 21-year-old who turned themselves in to investigators. A fourth person, a 32-year-old Hispanic man arrested in south Minneapolis, was released after it was determined he was not at the shooting scene, police said. McCarthy recommended firing officer Dante Servin for the shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, saying Servin showed “incredibly poor judgment” even though a jury had acquitted him of involuntary manslaughter and other charges last April.

Habu said that protesters had been told to watch out for white supremacists wearing masks or camouflage clothing, and said the group filming the demonstrations matched those descriptions. The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota and Justice Department prosecutors said they will review evidence to see whether there were any federal civil rights violations. Drew Evans, superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said authorities were still working to determine whether Clark was handcuffed when he died.

The crowd danced to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” shouted out the names those killed by police in the last year — Brown, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Walter Scott in North Charleston — and chanted, “No justice, no peace, prosecute the police.” Ali, 44, was born and raised here. As she marched from the police station to City Hall, her hands gripped a homemade cardboard sign with a warning for the nation: “This could be your city next.” Lowery reported from Minneapolis and Berman from Washington.

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