CHICAGO — Now that a verdict has been returned in the Jason Van Dyke trial, activists are shifting their focus. The Chicago police officer was convicted Friday of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the Oct. 20, 2014, slaying of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times.
Van Dyke, 40, was acquitted of official misconduct. He is slated to appear in court again Oct. 31
Jesse Jackson says Emanuel, McCarthy should be on trial
The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday said those involved in covering up the 2014 shooting should be held accountable. He and other faith leaders talked about the need to push for more accountability.
"It’s measured celebration," Jackson said. "Laquan is dead. Van Dyke is in jail. ... There are no winners in this crisis.”
"We must now address who did the covering up for 400 days," Jackson said, referencing the 13-month delay in releasing dashcam footage of the fatal police shooting. "Who rushed to pay $5 million for silence?"
The Chicago City Council in 2015 approved a $5 million settlement with McDonald's family. After the video was released later that year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired then-police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who is now running for mayor. Then-Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez lost her primary bid for re-election. Emanuel announced last month, a day before jury selection began in the Van Dyke trial, that he won't be seeking re-election to a third term.
"McCarthy and the mayor should be on trial as well," Jackson said.
Emanuel's office released the following statement: "This has been reviewed by the inspector general, state's attorney and the U.S. Department of Justice. Not a single one of the investigative bodies that has looked at this has come to that conclusion.”
McCarthy's campaign declined to comment.
"We should be able to protected under the laws of this land," McDonald's uncle, the Rev. Marvin Hunter, said, "and we should not have agencies that are governmental agencies that are able to have plausible deniability.”
Young activists look forward after Van Dyke verdict
A local police-reform advocate who's running for mayor reflected on the Van Dyke case Saturday and its consequences for the city. Ja'Mal Green believes the case could be a turning point in the country — noting that in many similar high-profile police shootings in the past, officers were acquitted or not charged.
"No guilty verdicts for Trayvon," he said. "No justice for Sandra Bland, no justice for Eric Gardner. All these different people around the country — you’re seeing no justice. But yesterday, we finally saw justice. In the city of Chicago."
Van Dyke is the first Chicago police officer to be convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting in roughly 50 years. Green credits young activists like William Calloway and Jedidiah Brown with bringing the case to light and keeping it in the public eye.
"We wouldn’t have no change in the city of Chicago without the activism of the last three years," Green said.
In instances around the country, police shootings of young black men have been racially explosive, and have sparked violence — like in Ferguson, Missouri, when a grand jury decided not to indict the officer who killed Michael Brown in 2014, and in Baltimore, Maryland, when Freddie Gray died after suffering a spinal cord injury in police custody in 2015.
"We want to do things differently in the city of Chicago," Green said. "We believe in pressure, political pressure. And that is what we have achieved thus far over the last few years.”
Green said the strategy of peaceful and persistent protest surrounding McDonald's death played a role in the McCarthy's dismissal, Alvarez's electoral defeat and Emanuel's decision not to seek re-election.