CHICAGO — Chicago mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle’s first campaign commercial claims she played a key role in the release the Laquan McDonald autopsy report.
But some say she’s exaggerating — and the 30-second TV commercial has left a number of activists fuming.
McDonald was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer on Oct. 20, 2014. Dashcam video of the fatal shooting was released 13 months later via court order, sparking citywide protests. The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was later convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. His sentencing is slated for Jan. 18.
Activist William Calloway, who was instrumental in getting the dashcam footage released, said he was taken aback by Preckwinkle’s ad.
“I understand this is politics,” Calloway said, “but you’re not going to weaponize Laquan McDonald’s name for political gain.”
The ad claims it was Preckwinkle who made sure McDonald’s autopsy results were released to the public.
Calloway is demanding Preckwinkle pull the spot. He said if she doesn’t, he and other activists may launch a campaign against her — similar to the #byeanita campaign that led to the defeat of former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
“We are willing and considering to use that same synergy to activate the movement to do a #ByeToni campaign,” Calloway said.
Several of Preckwinkle’s mayoral rivals have condemned the ad. On Friday, Gery Chico said in a statement, “It's distasteful that [Preckwinkle is] trying to score political points from the tragic murder of a young man."
But the Rev. Marvin Hunter, McDonald’s great-uncle, has a different take on the spot.
“I approve the ad,” Hunter said. “I approve the ad. The family approved the ad. She has the right to tell her story. Certainly she was the County Board President, right? She may have been a position to do exactly what she said she did.”
Activist Ja’Mal Green said he wants Preckwinkle to be more specific about what she did in regard to the McDonald case.
Green said he also wants to know what each Chicago mayoral candidate was doing while activists marched in the streets after the release of the dashcam video.