CHICAGO — The early release of ex-Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke, convicted of killing Laquan McDonald, has enraged several civil rights groups, many of whom protested downtown Thursday evening.
Several activists breached the lobby of the Federal Building Courthouse, locking arm-in-arm in protest of Van Dyke’s release from custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. Activists demand the former Chicago police officer face federal charges.
Activists, including McDonald’s grandmother, Tracie Hunter, Ja’Mal Green, William Calloway, and Justin S. Blake, uncle of Jacob Blake, were removed from the building by US Marshals, some in handcuffs taken into custody.
In the aftermath, Hunter spoke with WGN News, saying that authorities asked her to leave the Federal Building, but she wasn’t arrested. However, she reiterated her disdain over the early release of Van Dyke.
Hunter adds that activists entered the Federal Building to show how quickly law enforcement would detain them. Activists said they used the act to show how rapid response by law enforcement has not been the same for their demands.
Demonstrators later took to the streets of downtown Chicago to voice their objections. The groups shared their intent to remain outdoors until the activists taken into custody are released.
Green later shared on social media that he was one of nine arrested by US Marshals and charged with contempt for protesting.
The scene comes after a group of 17 civil rights organizations led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition hand-delivered a letter to US Attorney John Lausch, telling the prosecutor they are “calling on your office to bring charges. ”
The group added that Van Dyke’s sentence was a “slap on the wrist” and his early release a “slap in the face to Black people everywhere.”
“The state did not do its job here,” Jackson said. “The crime and time do not correspond.”
Bishop Tavis Grant, also of the Rainbow Push Coalition, says the groups are urging authorities to bring federal civil rights charges against Van Dyke for the 2014 killing of McDonald.
“It’s outrageous. It’s an insult,” Grant said. “There’s no way this justice department can allow this to fall on deaf ears. They must hear the cry of the family and the community – justice for Laquan McDonald.”
Earlier this week, the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to bring federal civil rights charges against Van Dyke. The letter, sent by NAACP President Derrick Johnson, comes years after video of Van Dyke that shows the former officer shooting then 17-year-old McDonald 16 times as he walked away from law enforcement.
REPORT: US Marshals detain demonstrators at Jason Van Dyke protest
The aftermath sent shockwaves throughout the city and brought worldwide attention to the cause of police reform.
At the conclusion of Van Dyke’s 2018 trial, he was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery, one for each shot fired.
He was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison but was freed Thursday, Feb. 3, after serving only three years and three months.
“We object to what is taking place here today. The release of Jason Van Dyke,” said Father Michael Pfleger.