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CHICAGO — Organizers are calling for a CTA shutdown ahead of the scheduled early release for Jason Van Dyke, a former Chicago police officer who was convicted in 2018 for the killing of Laquan McDonald.

In recent days, Congressman Bobby Rush and Rev. Jesse Jackson have called on the Department of Justice to file federal charges against Van Dyke.

A downtown rally is planned by local activists for Thursday, the day Van Dyke is slated to be released from prison.

Van Dyke was sentenced to 81 months in prison but will be released after serving just 39 months of the sentence on the grounds of good behavior.

Activist William Calloway says outrage is growing across Chicago, with LaQuan McDonald’s killer set to be free of police custody in the coming days.

“Jason Van Dyke epitomizes everything that’s wrong with the Chicago Police Department,” Calloway said.

Rev. Marshall Hatch, of New Pilgrim Baptist Church on the West Side, says Van Dyke’s three years in prison sends the wrong message to the community.

“For us, it’s a real travesty of justice to say that LaQuan McDonald‘s life is worth so little,” Hatch said.

The pastor adds that the battle for continued justice is ongoing, as evidenced by high-profile convictions in Georgia (Travis & Gregory McMichael, William Bryan) and Minnesota (Kim Potter).    

“It kind of shows the way Chicago is behind the rest of the country,” Hatch said.

Reverend Ira Acree says he understands the anger and supports the activists on the streets. He says it’s important to look at the big picture to fight for real police reform, however.  

“By us re-visiting the shooting and the police cover-up, maybe once and for all we can usher in some real police reform,” Acree said.

Ahead of Van Dyke’s release, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot weighed in.

“There has to be some change,” Lightfoot said. “This can not continue to happen.”