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Hundreds To Rally For Laquan McDonald, 2 Years After Police Shooting Death

By Stephen Gossett in News on Oct 20, 2016 4:00PM

Protesters march on Nov. 24/Chicagoist

Updated 11:45
Today marks the two-year anniversary of the death of Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old boy whose extra-judicial killing at the hands of Chicago police sparked waves of protest, prompted a federal probe into the department and ushered in calls for accountability that continue today.

Memorials and protest are scheduled for this evening to commemorate McDonald’s life and call for further police reform, with hundreds planning to attend.

McDonald’s family released the following statement today:

“Laquan’s death at the hands of Jason Van Dyke was a brutal and senseless act of violence.

Time has not dulled the pain of this tragic loss to his mother, his sister and the rest of his extended family.

We thank all of the people who have honored Laquan’s memory and continue to advocate for police reform.

We look forward to the day when Jason Van Dyke will be held responsible for Laquan’s senseless murder and everyone involved in trying to cover up this criminal act is held accountable.

Only then will justice truly be served.”

Ahead of this evening's demonstrations, some organizers and local leaders gathered at the site of McDonald's death to pay respects and homage.

Police dashcam video captured the killing on tape—in which McDonald was shot 16 times—but video was only made public more than a year after the fact, just before Van Dyke was charged with murder. Footage appeared to show McDonald moving away from officers, in contradiction of official police testimony. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is still struggling to recover from the social and political fallout over what critics charged was a cover up. An investigation by the Department of Justice launched a probe, which is still ongoing, of CPD following the tape’s release.

Over the last two years, both the case itself and its far-reaching effects continue to evolve. Last month a judge granted request for a grand jury to hear evidence against officers who were involved at the scene; and three weeks ago, a witness to the shooting filed a lawsuit alleging that police officers engaged in cover-up tactics, including confiscating her phone as she attempted to film. Among more recent political changes, Emanuel proposed a new accountability agency, COPA, to replace the beleaguered IPRA; and Supt. Eddie Johnson announced this month a series of revisions to the department’s use-of-force policy. One of the most notable debates to rise in Chicago has been that of the so-called "Ferguson effect," which Johnson indirectly (and controversially) cited as cause for a severely beaten officer's reluctance to use deadly force.

A gathering arranged by activist Lamon Reccord will meet in the 4100 block of South Pulaski Road, the site of the killing, at 7 p.m. on Thursday. Another action, organized by activist William Calloway, is planned for tonight at Chicago Police Headquarters (35th and Michigan) at 6 p.m. Calloway on Thursday morning announced a bill proposal that, if passed, would create a recall mechanism that would allow citizens to hold special elections against some local government officials, including the mayor and aldermen, DNA Info reports.

Emanuel's office released a statement on McDonald's death Thursday morning, calling the death "a wake-up call":

“Two years ago Laquan McDonald lost his life tragically and unnecessarily. His death was a wake-up call for our city on an issue that has challenged the city for decades, and brought a renewed commitment to a public conversation about policing and community relations. But more than just breaking from the past, we will continue working together across the city to build a brighter future by restoring trust between residents and our officers, and implementing the reforms necessary to prevent this from happening again.”