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Community Marks 3rd Anniversary Of Laquan McDonald Shooting With 'Laquan Day' Protests

By aaroncynic in News on Oct 20, 2017 3:59PM

It’s been three years since Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shot and killed Laquan McDonald, and community members and activists once again gathered in front of Chicago Police Headquarters on 35th and Michigan to mark the day, remember he and others who have been killed by police, and call for an end to police brutality and gun violence.

McDonald was shot 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014 by Van Dyke, who now faces first-degree murder charges. The subsequent release of dashcam footage showing the officer shooting McDonald as he walked away while holding a knife sparked a wave of protests, cost both former Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez their jobs, and sparked calls for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Additionally, three other officers were indicted on charges of conspiring cover up possible wrongdoing by Van Dyke by falsifying information on police reports.

For two hours, community members, many of whom had relatives or close friends killed by police, shared their stories, with the crowd breaking into chants of “16 shots and a cover up” and “no justice, no peace” several times.

"I'm here, and I'm never going to shut up because that was my baby," said Panzy Edwards, the mother of Dakota Bright, a 15 year-old boy shot and killed by Chicago Police in 2012. "I ain't been quiet for five years, and I ain't going to be quiet now.”

“They killed my son,” said Emmett Farmer, whose son was shot and killed by former officer Gildardo Sierra in 2011. Flint Farmer was the third person shot—two of whom died—by Sierra in a six month span. “He got killed unrightfully,” said Emmett, speaking of Flint, who was unarmed when he was shot. “We want justice for Flint Farmer,” he said, asking attendees to fill a courtroom for a hearing on Friday after State’s Attorney Kim Foxx objected to appointing a special prosecutor to investigate possible criminal charges against Sierra.

“Anita Alvarez, she said it was justifiable,” said Dorothy Holmes, whose son Ronald Johnson was shot and killed by police in 2014. Alvarez, who was Cook County State’s Attorney declined to press criminal charges, with the office saying that “the prosecution could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Hernandez's actions were not reasonable.” Authorities argued that Johnson had a gun, though dashcam footage did not back that allegation up. Police produced a weapon they alleged belonged to Johnson which had his DNA on it but no fingerprints. The family and their legal team have said that the weapon could’ve been planted.

“In my eyesight it was a murder cover up,” said Holmes. “It’s a fight, and we’ve gotta show them we ain’t giving up...he didn’t have a pricetag on his life. You took a whole human being away from a mother and a father away from his kids.”

At the conclusion of the rally, attendees released hundreds of balloons to represent the victims of gun violence throughout Chicago.

“We release these balloons not just for Laquan but everyone that we have lost to gun violence, social injustices, just life,” said a speaker. “Every life lost—we release these balloons for them.”

A community town hall discussion is planned for Friday evening at the Progressive Baptist Church on 37th and Wentworth, and a 6:30 p.m. protest is planned to take place at Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house.