By Bre’onna Richardson
In this June 8-15 special report, Fight for Justice: Stories from across America, Medill Reports looks at how the Black Lives Matter movement has already led to policy changes across the country and how tough battles lie ahead for healthcare workers as coronavirus cases spike in several states.
From Chicago to Texas, Michigan to Florida and everywhere in between, we find out how the coronavirus and social activism are changing the way we live.
Photo at top: Protestors holding Black Lives Matter signs in Chicago. (Yousef Nasser/MEDILL)
By Jenny Ly
In this June 1-7 special report, Fight for Justice: Stories from across America, Medill Reports looks at how the death of Minnesota resident George Floyd on Memorial Day is sparking social change across the country.
It’s a new-age of protesting during the COVID-19 era and an image for the history books: protesters donning face masks while marching for a movement.
Floyd’s death under police custody happened amid a global pandemic, where states are gradually opening up and businesses resume operations. With the numerous protests and demonstrations — some violent and peaceful — experts will now closely watch to determine what type of impact this will have on coronavirus cases. See how Americans are responding to historic moments of 2020.
Photo at top: A Florida man holds a sign at a protest while also protecting himself in a face mask in response to the death of Minnesota resident George Floyd. (Samone Blair/MEDILL)
By Becky Dernbach
A defense witness revealed this week that Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was talking about shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald before he ever saw him.
“Why don’t they shoot him if he’s attacking them?” Van Dyke asked when he first heard the radio reports that McDonald had popped a squad car’s tire with a knife. Still a block and a half from the scene, he said to his partner, “Oh my God, we’re going to have to shoot the guy.”
Psychologist Laurence Miller, an expert witness in forensic and police psychology, confirmed these comments during cross examination. He testified that Van Dyke reported these reactions to him in an interview about the night of the fatal shooting, Oct. 20, 2014. Van Dyke confirmed the comments as well during cross-examination when he took the stand Tuesday in his own defense.
The prosecution in Van Dyke’s murder trial repeatedly stressed these comments in closing arguments Thursday before sending the officer’s case to the jury. The jury of 12, including just one black member, is now deliberating the fate of Van Dyke, the white police officer who shot black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. Van Dyke faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated battery, and official misconduct. The jury also has the option to consider charges of second-degree murder, an option offered during jury instructions by Judge Vincent Gaughan in Cook County criminal court. Continue reading
By Alex Ortiz
During the afternoon of Nov. 20, a group of some 15 protesters walked down a closed off streets at Kedzie Avenue and 111th Street in Mount Greenwood on the city’s far southwestern edge. It was a cool but clear day — perfect for a large demonstration. Residents looked on while standing on their front lawns. Many had confused faces, while others shook their heads disapprovingly. Continue reading
By Xuanyan Ouyang
Parents who took their kids to the protest march for Peter Liang in Chicago said it was not just for Liang, but also for the equal rights of the future generations of Asian-Americans.
Over a thousand people marched in downtown Chicago as a part of the “biggest-ever Asian-American” protest in the U.S. history. They were calling for justice for former New York City officer Peter Liang. Liang accidentally shot Akai Gurley during a patrol in 2014.
Liang was convicted of manslaughter recently, making him the first police officer in New York found guilty for a police-involved shooting in a decade. Rage among the Chinese-American community triggered protests in more than 30 cities across the U.S.
Photo at top: Lei Zhao, Jiajia and their daughter among the protest crowd. (Xuanyan Ouyang/Medill)
By Yingxu Jane Hao
nger toward the conviction of ex-New York City police officer Peter Liang brought Chinese Americans to downtown Chicago over the weekend to demand a fair trial for him and fair treatment for the Chinese American community.
Liang, the 28-year-old rookie cop is the first NYPD officer prosecuted and convicted in a police-involved shooting in the past 10 years. Protesters believe Liang was treated unfairly compared with white officers in similar cases because he belongs to an ethnic minority.
By Shanshan Wang
Thousands of people, mostly Chinese-Americans, marched in downtown Chicago Saturday, calling justice for former NYPD officer Peter Liang, who was convicted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a black man in 2014.
The protesters chanted along the way, holding national flags, signs and banners with slogans conveying the message that selective justice is not justice, and that Liang is a scapegoat. Many of them have been following the news and sharing the protest information on WeChat, the most popular social media platform among Chinese community.
On Saturday, throngs of protesters, many from Chicago’s Chinese American community, decried the guilty verdict in the police shooting trail of Peter Liang in New York. Liang was convicted of shooting Akai Gurley, an African American, in 2014 while on the job as a New York City cop. Many protesters said race is not an issue here and that their main appeal was to have justice in law. However, at least one black woman insisted black lives matter. (Yunfei Zhao / MEDILL)
Continue reading One bullet, two victims: Protesters rally for convicted NYPD officer
By Branden Hampton
Eighty percent of prison inmates report that they were in foster care as youth, and the foster care-to-prison pipeline must be dismantled, according to social justice activist Charity Tolliver.
“When we look at the boom of the prison system in the ’80s, one of the systems that also exploded at the same time was the foster care system,” said Tolliver. “It went from being 20,000 [children] overnight to up to a quarter of a million. Today there are half a million [foster] children.”
By Meggie Morris
Earlier this month, Scheherazade Tillet watched an older, African-American man take the stage at Breathing Room, a recurring event that inspires proactive conversation about transformative justice through art and performance.
Holding Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow,” the man admitted to the audience he had only just finished it, before inviting the youngest person in the room to take it from him, said Tillet, an artist and feminist leader. The memory has stuck with her.
By Meggie Morris
Two weeks after Buzzfeed leaked emails from a University of Chicago fraternity, revealing four years of racist and misogynistic sentiment, students, faculty and local organizers gathered last week to discuss the complexities of racism and activism.
As social justice movements gain momentum and exposure nation-wide, activists remain concerned about the balance between exclusive and collaborative spaces needed for effective activism. While students and younger activists voiced the need for exclusivity, professors said sustainable movements require coalition work.