Protests of Chicago teen’s shooting continue

27 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago Protesters Plan Black Friday March Over Laquan McDonald Death.

Demonstrators planned a mass march along Chicago’s ritzy Magnificent Mile on Friday to protest widespread problems in the police department that they said were directly to blame for the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. CHICAGO—Activists called for a Black Friday march on the city’s main shopping district amid growing questions from aldermen and civil-rights activists about why it took over a year to file murder charges against a white policeman accused of shooting a black teenager 16 times. Chicago has been the scene of large but mainly peaceful protests since Tuesday, when authorities made public a disturbing dashcam video of the moment police shot Laquan 16 times last year in October 2014.

Five people were arrested late on Tuesday in mostly peaceful demonstrations following the release of graphic footage showing 17-year- old Laquan McDonald being gunned down in the middle of a street on Oct 20 last year, as he was walking away from police who had confronted him. Graphic footage released shortly after officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday has reignited impassioned debate about the use of force by law enforcement in the US, with Chicago left dangerously on edge.

A new round of protests on Wednesday at the Chicago’s criminal courthouse and City Hall were sparsely attended, though members of the City Council’s black caucus again demanded the resignation of police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. CHICAGO—The black teenager who was shot and killed by a white Chicago police officer had lived a troubled, disadvantaged life and had at least one previous brush with the law. Sabina Catholic Church and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis—called for demonstrators to shut down the city’s Magnificent Mile retail area on Friday. President Barack Obama, who hails from Chicago and began his political career there, said on Facebook that he was “deeply disturbed” by the video, but “personally grateful to the people of my hometown for keeping protests peaceful”.

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ records show that Laquan McDonald was a ward of the state when he died, having spent years being shuttled between different relatives’ homes and foster care from the time he was 3 years old. Investigation of the case comes amid a national debate on race and police tactics sparked by a series of high-profile killings of unarmed black men at the hands of mainly white law enforcement officers in several US cities in the past two years, leading to widespread demonstrations and some violent unrest.

But school officials and the McDonald family lawyer say there were signs Laquan was trying to get his life in order, having enrolled in an alternative high school where he was making good grades. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Tuesday she’d hoped to make a joint announcement with federal authorities about charges against Van Dyke, but decided to charge him earlier in the hopes of calming what she knew would be an angry response to the video. John Curran, a vice president at the Magnificent Mile Association, which represents 780 businesses, said his group is communicating with members about security and expects stores to be open as usual for one of the retail industry’s most important shopping days. “We’re hoping for a peaceful demonstration by the parties that are planning to demonstrate and respect their freedom to assemble and do that,” Mr. The authorities in Chicago, a city of 2.7 million people, had girded for the possibility of civil unrest on a scale seen in cities such as Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, but the city remained mostly tranquil by Wednesday night.

Prosecutors said Van Dyke, who joined the Chicago police in 2001, opened fire just 30 seconds after his vehicle pulled up to the scene with McDonald and six seconds after stepping out of it. A group of between 100 and 200 protesters began a march at the start of the evening rush hour in Chicago’s busy downtown area, and were still on the streets over five hours later despite the onset of rain. Marshall Hatch, co-chairman of the Leaders Network of Chicago, a nonprofit activist group. “From this tragedy and crisis, we need fundamental police reform, as well as an urban policy that offers live options for our young people.” The Chicago Tribune reports that parents have received a letter from Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson assuring them the video won’t be shown in schools. The latest case has been particularly painful for Edward Nance, who won a $350,000 civil judgment for injuries sustained when he was arrested by Van Dyke and his partner in 2007.

Nance — who worked at a cable company and as a high-school sports referee — told investigators that Van Dyke’s partner slammed his head on the hood of his car and that van Dyke violently handcuffed him and tossed him into a squad car. The Independent Police Review Board dismissed the complaint because there were “no independent witnesses” and “no way to determine” the cause of Nance’s injuries, the Sun-Times reported. Video footage of police shootings—from dashboard or body cameras to recordings made by citizens on mobile phones—has spurred more and faster prosecutions of police this year, experts say. In April, a white South Carolina police officer, Michael Slager, was arrested and charged with murder within days after a citizen video emerged that showed him shooting an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, who was running away from him at the time.

Maki Haberfeld, chairwoman of the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said the shooting didn’t appear to be justified because the teen wasn’t approaching the officer.

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