Black Lives Matter protesters are filling the streets of Chicago Wednesday, blocking traffic and disrupting the city to protest police actions relating to the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
McDonald was shot 16 times by police. Many are also calling for the resignation of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Emanuel gave a speech Wednesday apologizing for McDonald’s death and promising to make it right, after which protesters filled the streets of the city. Protesters are critical of Emanuel, saying his office tried to keep details about the death from the public and only took action after the release of a video of the death caused a scandal.
“The word must become flesh, and we’ll know the value of it then,” Rev. Jesse Jackson tells The Chicago Tribune concerning Emanuel’s speech. “It must become a practice, and it must happen immediately. We now know police saw the killing of Laquan McDonald and filed a false report. They should be addressed immediately.”
“I welcome the engagement of the Justice Department,” Emanuel told reporters Thursday. “We have a long road ahead of us as a city, and I welcome people from many views to help us do what exactly we need to do.”
Emanuel’s efforts to appease critics since the release of the video have done little, and now the city streets are filled with protesters.
— Tina Sfondeles (@TinaSfon) December 9, 2015
— Audrina Bigos (@AudrinaBigos) December 9, 2015
Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Monday the Department of Justice will investigate the Chicago Police Department.
Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with first degree murder which occurred in October of last year. A video of the event released last month shows McDonald moving away from police as they fatally shoot him 16 times in the middle of the road. Authorities said McDonald took PCP and was carrying a pocket knife. (WATCH THE VIDEO: Justice Department Opens Investigation Into Chicago PD)
The video quickly drew national outrage, leading to the firing of the police superintendent and calls for Emanuel’s resignation since the shooting happened over a year ago but charges are only now being brought against an officer. Emanuel, a former aide to President Barack Obama, also fought to keep the video hidden from the public and has dismissed calls for his resignation. He originally criticized the idea of an investigation, but quickly changed his tune the next day. He has since said it is a good idea.
Cook County’s chief prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, admits the timing of the charges against the officer involved are to make the shooting less of a scandal. They want to at least be able to say the officer is being charged so as to stymie outrage after people saw the video.
“With release of this video it’s really important for public safety that the citizens of Chicago know that this officer is being held responsible for his actions,” she told Reuters in November.
Chicago police already have a questionable reputation. A Guardian investigation exposed in February that Chicago police have the equivalent of a domestic black site where they allegedly torture detainees who they often hold illegally and keep from legal counsel. That combined with the growing momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement and a federal investigation ensures this case will not quickly be put away.
A Justice Department investigation does not guarantee any criminal convictions or disciplinary action. The DOJ investigated the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., but never brought any charges against officer Darren Wilson. The DOJ did find racist police practices in the department, though, and forced it into a series of corrective measures.
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