By Kinsey Crowley
Jason Van Dyke was released from prison Feb. 3, prompting the Day of Outrage and Direct Action rally organized by Chicago activists.
The former Chicago police officer killed Laquan McDonald while on duty in 2014. A video later released showed Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times, many of the shots striking him while he was walking away from Van Dyke. Van Dyke was convicted in 2016 of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.
Van Dyke’s sentence of six years and nine months was based only on the murder conviction, and he was released less than halfway through his sentence. Activists organized the rally to ask federal officials to charge Van Dyke with civil rights violations.
U.S. marshals detained demonstrators inside the John C. Kluczynski Federal Building, including McDonald’s grandmother and aunt. They were later released, while other demonstrators were charged with misdemeanor civil contempt, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.
The organizing coalition included Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, Good Kids Mad City, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, NAACP Chicago Southside, U.S. Palestinian Community Network, the Arab American Action Network and Indivisible Chicago-South Side.
CROWD: Say his name! Laquan McDonald! Say his name! Laquan McDonald!
NARRATION: ON FEB. 3RD, A COALITION OF CHICAGO ACTIVISTS GATHERED OUTSIDE THE FEDERAL BUILDING IN THE LOOP.
CROWD: No justice, no peace!
NARRATION: FORMER CHICAGO POLICE OFFICER JASON VAN DYKE WAS RELEASED FROM PRISON EARLIER THAT DAY. VAN DYKE WAS CONVICTED FOR SECOND DEGREE MURDER AND AGGRAVATED BATTERY WITH A FIREARM FOR KILLING LAQUAN MCDONALD, A 17-YEAR-OLD BLACK MAN, IN 2014.
DEMONSTRATOR: He shot that baby 16 times!
NARRATION: VAN DYKE WAS RELEASED LESS THAN HALFWAY THROUGH HIS SENTENCE FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR, WHICH MAYOR LORI LIGHTFOOT SAYS, “[FEELS] LIKE A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE.”
CROWD: I say Van Dyke, you say lock up!
NARRATION: THIS IS WHAT PROMPTED THE DAY OF OUTRAGE RALLY …
BROTHER WESTSIDE: Anytime you shoot a child down 16 times, you’re not supposed to get out of jail.
NARRATION: … WHERE PROTESTERS CALLED FOR FEDERAL CHARGES AGAINST VAN DYKE.
CROWD: 16 shots and a coverup! 16 shots and a coverup!
TROY GASTON: Jason Van Dyke has been orchestrated and designed by his own Chicago Police Department to be a threat to historically marginalized communities.
NARRATION: WHILE THE CROWD CHANTED OUTSIDE, MCDONALD’S FAMILY WAS INSIDE ISSUING A LETTER.
TRACIE HUNTER: What happened to my grandson, I wouldn’t wish that on no mother’s or grandmother’s worst nightmare. So all I’m asking is for federal charges. ‘Cause the time he did wasn’t enough. Period.”
NARRATION: AS NIGHT FELL, U.S. MARSHALS ASKED THE DEMONSTRATORS TO LEAVE THE BUILDING. WHEN THOSE REMAINING REFUSED, THEY WERE ESCORTED OUT OR ARRESTED FOR CIVIL CONTEMPT. THE CROWD OUTSIDE SPILLED ONTO DEARBORN STREET IN PROTEST.
CROWD: Free our comrades! Free our comrades! Free our comrades!
NARRATION: WHILE THE OUTRAGE ABOUT VAN DYKE’S RELEASE REMAINED, ORGANIZERS OF THE RALLY SAW HOPE IN THE CROWD THAT SHOWED UP THAT DAY.
DEMONSTRATOR: Look at all these different races, and different ethnicities, and different backgrounds, and different religions, that came together for justice.
NARRATION: ORGANIZATIONS RANGING FROM THE NAACP TO THE ARAB AMERICAN ACTION NETWORK PROTESTED VAN DYKE’S RELEASE TOGETHER.
TROY GASTON: We’ve seen a diverse group of people. Having all these people come out here and have their voices heard in sync is success within itself.”
NARRATION: IN THE LOOP, KINSEY CROWLEY, MEDILL REPORTS.