CHICAGO — Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, whose fatal shooting of Black teen Laquan McDonald put the city at the center of a national debate about race and law enforcement, will be released from prison early next month.
On Thursday, community activists announced their desire to see federal prosecutors bring charges against Van Dyke, calling on the Magnificent Mile Association to pressure the judicial system as well.
“We don’t want to see Cartier being vandalized or watch Burberry and Louis – that goes against what we believe in. That does hurt our cause. But at the same time, being Black, and being Black in America for 32 years, I understand, and I get it,” said justice reform advocate William Calloway.
With memories of the 2020 unrest and looting fresh in the city’s collective memory, racial justice activists gathered on Michigan Avenue – the symbolic heart of Chicago’s wealth and power – to demand help from members of the city’s most high-profile location. They want Mag Mile businesses to pressure politicians and prosecutors to intervene in the Van Dyke case.
“That would carry a whole lot of weight,” Calloway said. “They might not care about Black lives and Black bodies, but they care about their property.”
Activists say they are upset that Van Dyke will be released from prison before serving half his sentence. Van Police dashcam video captured Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times. In October of 2018, Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. He was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison but reportedly will only serve about three years and three months pending release.
“We can see with clear eyes that Jason Van Dyke has been given preferential treatment,” Dr. Lashawna Littrice of Make Noize for Change said.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Van Dyke will be released on Feb. 3.
“He does not deserve to walk free on Feb. 3, and we’re going to make sure that he doesn’t,” Littrice said.
On Thursday, racial justice activists called on US Attorney John Lausch to intervene and bring federal charges against Van Dyke.
“We need John Lausch to step up and show that his office has integrity,” community activists Ja’Mal Green said.
Lausch’s spokesman declined to comment on the case ‘at this time.’
Activists mentioned that there are ‘rumblings’ about a response from outraged members of the Black community.
“It shouldn’t take for folks to step up and fight, to step up and lock arms, and businesses to lose money, and riots and all of that,” Green said. “It shouldn’t take that for us to get some type of justice in Chicago.”