Summary: The murder of Laquan McDonald reveals not only the depravity of the Chicago cop who killed him but also of the entire police department, criminal justice system, and political forces that sought to conceal this crime and that of others against people of color all over the U.S. — Editors
The murder of Laquan McDonald reveals not only the depravity of the Chicago cop who killed him but also of the entire police department, criminal justice system, and political forces that sought to conceal this crime and that of others against people of color all over the U.S. Now is the time to make our voice heard for a thoroughgoing transformation of the social, political, and economic system that allowed these tragic events to happen.
What made Jason Van Dyke, the cop who brutally murdered Laquan McDonald, pump 16 bullets into him, if not racism and a complete disregard for Black lives? Police officers like Van Dyke and Dante Servin, who killed Rekia Boyd, consistently and routinely inflict violence on Black people because they know that they are protected by the powerful system that hires and trains them to be a force of oppression.
What made Mayor Rahm Emmanuel prevent the video from being released for over a year if not callous disregard for police abuse? What made State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez wait a year before filing murder charges if not her collusion with the Mayor and police? If a 17-year year Black youth was filmed killing a Chicago cop, would it have taken more than 48 hours to issue an indictment?
And why did Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy wait till late Monday night on November 23 to recommend the firing of Dante Servin, who shot and killed Rekia Boyd in 2012, two months after a police review board recommended that he be fired? These “concessions” are nothing but PR from a system that has been unresponsive to the demands of community members and young organizers fighting for these outcomes as part of their demands for justice. The credit for even these small acts towards accountability must go squarely to those organizers.
The powers that be are now preaching the need for “peace,” “calm,” and “non-violence.” But in showing such concern about hypothetical violence that might happen, they are complicit in the actual violence that is happening—the persistent violence meted out around this country against Blacks and Latinos especially, by a military-industrial-police complex that has an utter disregard for human life and decency.
Locally, Chicago youth organizers have declined this attempt at controlling their response to this outrage. Perhaps that is why some notable leaders among them were targeted and arrested. Page May, Johnae Strong, Troy Alim, and Malcolm London were arrested during a peaceful protest where the police were the only violent presence. Throwing a smoke bomb into the crowd, undercover and uniformed cops took Malcolm away and charged him with the felony of aggravated assault. These charges were dropped at his bond hearing on Nov. 25 without any explanation from the prosecutor. We demand that all charges be dropped against the others as well and stand in solidarity with the black youth and adults organizing against state violence and oppression.
The insensitive and repressive policies that led to the death of Laquan McDonald and the subsequent unsuccessful efforts to cover it up—like the murders and cover-ups that occur daily by the powers that run this country—are too deeply entrenched to be resolved by removing one police commissioner and even punishing one policeman, though as the youth organizers’ statement also states, both are surely needed. The continuation and further development of the movements that have arisen over the past year that aim for a complete transformation of the system that allows these crimes to be perpetrated holds the greatest promise of all.
In that spirit, we stand with all those arrested and charged so far in these protests and we extend a hand of solidarity to everyone who wishes to see a new humanity arise from the ashes of this decadent society in which the lives of “the wretched of the earth” (to use the phrase of Frantz Fanon) are ignored, repressed, and cast aside.
Striving for a NEW humanity is how we can best do justice to the legacy of Laquan McDonald and all other victims of police abuse.