All roads and social justice fighters lead to the February 3 5pm ‘Day of Outrage’ protest, where hundreds are expected to attend a rally protesting the early release of the former police officer of Chicago’s Jason Van Dyke, who served only three months and nine days for murder. Laquan McDonald, 17 years old.
This was the message echoed by Reverend Jesse L, Jackson, Sr., Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st), Father Michael L. Pfleger, Bishop Tavis Grant, National Field Director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Tracey Hunter, McDonald’s grandmother, aunt Tanisha Hunter, activist Will Calloway and dozens of supporters at a press conference Monday, Jan. 24 at Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters.
Reverend Jackson, Rep. Rush, Father Pfleger and the Hunters agreed that Van Dyke should not be released early for good behavior and called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to charge him with civil rights violations from McDonald’s. Reverend Jackson said the 81-month sentence was unfair, noting that many black people incarcerated on lesser charges are serving their full time.
Van Dyke, 43, shot McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014 and was charged by indictment with six counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm – one charge for each of the 16 strokes.
A jury found Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and all 16 counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. Judge Vincent Gaughan sentenced Van Dyke to six years and nine months, sparking protests yesterday and today.
Referring to Van Dyke, Reverend Jackson said not only did the former Chicago police officers murder McDonald, but he also “lied to the government about it”. And, with the help of protests, the video was finally released after 400 days, Reverend Jackson called the emotional ordeal “16 blows and a cover-up”.
Bishop Grant and supporters also want the DOJ to file civil rights charges against the three Chicago police officers who were found not guilty of conspiring to cover up Van Dyke’s murder of McDonald. Opting for a bench trial, Officer Thomas Gaffney, former Officer Joseph Walsh and former Detective David March were acquitted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct by the Cook County Judge Domenica Stephenson.
McDonald’s aunt told reporters, “It’s crazy how I could go to a cemetery and talk to a headstone when this man” will be released on February 3. What the Hunter family and their supporters want is “justice for Laquan”.
They also want the three Minneapolis officers who held down George Floyd while Derek Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes until he died. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter last year.
Bishop Grant wants former Minneapolis officers J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane also charged with violating the rights of Floyd who at the time was handcuffed, telling them he couldn’t breathe and then calling his mother who died a long time ago.
Like Van Dyke, Bishop Grant said, “They too did not serve or protect. They did nothing as Chauvin took Floyd’s life in front of witnesses who filmed the murder.
Father Pfleger said, “Every part of Chicago and Illinois should stand up to keep this man (Van Dyke) in jail. It’s not a black problem. It’s a matter of justice,” he said as his supporters cheered.
Rep. Rush has called for a day of action on Feb. 3 and Calloway wants the CTA to close on Jan. 31 to protest Van Dyke’s early release. “Sixteen shots and a cover-up,” he chanted as Rush and dozens of supporters chimed in.
The McDonald’s grandmother called for President Biden’s intervention, saying, “Come forward. We need your help. I need your help.” She said her family still suffers from the murder of her grandson and, like the other supporters, she too is asking for “justice for Laquan”.