LaQuan McDonald’s Chicago Protestors March on Michigan
by Kai EL’ Zabar
It’s been in the works and on the rise buy today it rose. After days of protests in pockets throughout the windy city since Wednesday’s release of a video showing white police officer Jason Van Dyke kill 17 year old LaQuan McDonald in what appears (the tape had no audio) to be a senseless execution, demonstrators were poised to disrupt Black Friday shopping with a march through the heart of the city’s most famous retail district.
So in the rain today’s activists on behalf of the LaQuan McDonald came out in numbers to Chicago’s Magnificent Mile beginning at the Tribune Towers represented various groups creating factions there for the same cause but with different ideas about how to go about acheiving the goal.
Demonstrators scheduled the protest march for Black Friday. This traditional day of sales is the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season that ordinarily packs Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile. Activists wanted to bring greater attention to the Oct. 20, 2014, execution style murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago Police Officer .
Questions regarding the timing of the actual charges brought against Officer Van Dyke and the release of the video is what has infuriated the public as much as the murder. If in fact as Alvarez has stated, that the FBI contacted the Cook County state’s attorney’s office in November 2014, a few weeks after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, and the two offices began working together on the case in December.
“From that time on, we were engaged in an active joint ongoing criminal investigation at both the state and the federal levels,” Alvarez said in a press conference Tuesday. Then why has it taken 400 days for her office to get to this point?
Also the timing of the graphic dash cam video release the same day that Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder seems a little manipulative to many. Some wonder if it is all about the political interests of Alavarez, Rahm and even Chicago Police Superintentent McCarthy. These are the questions protestors are seeking answers to as well as making demands.
Even though Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez defended herself and Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday after critics slammed both of them for delays in filing charges so late/400 days to be exac against VanDyke, who fatally shot teenager, La Quan McDonald.
The graphic dashcam video that shows McDonald being shot repeatedly by Officer Jason Van Dyke was released Tuesday, the same day Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder. He’s been ordered held without bond. For most it’s too little too late and again it looks as Alvarez has set the charge in favor of the Officer Charged with the crime. It’s going to be a difficult to prove First-degree murder, which implies that the murder was premeditated. However, the video does show that Van Dyke’s attorney’s statement that the officer feared for his life when he fired at McDonald is not true.
In the days since the video’s release, there has been talk that marchers taking part in the Black Friday protest would engage in acts of civil disobedience, such as blocking store entrances to prevent shoppers from getting inside. Many of the leadership denied such intention.
Today it happened. “We’re standing here,not to obstruct but to make people think about what’s happened, and pose the question what can they do about it. By not crossing our line is huge,” said A. Castleberry a protestor.
Talk of disobedience and unrests has been rumored as part of the plan and yet the planners say, that was not the goal but rather to bring about awareness. They also stated that the moment will create the reaction.
The idea was to cost businesses money because the publicity surrounding it would discourage shoppers from even venturing into the area. Given that as a goal garnered with the rain, the protest was successful as several hundred people gathered in protest.
All previous marches have been largely peaceful. There have been isolated clashes between police and protesters, with about 10 arrests and only a few minor reports of property damage. The police have allowed protesters to march in the middle of the street and even hold rallies in the middle of intersections, beginning Tuesday evening and on Thursday the department said it would handle Friday’s march much the same way. They did.
Throughout the week, protesters have expressed anger over the video of the shooting. They’ve also harshly criticized the department for its months-long effort to prevent the video from being released and the state’s attorney’s office for taking more than a year to file charges against the officer, despite having footage of the incident.
The march was not a “Civi Rights” moment even though there were some of the old guard present; Congressman Bobby Rush and Reverent Jesse Jackson along with members of the PUSH Coalition stood in protest. Reverent Jesse Jackson Sr, was verbally accosted by street activist Mark Carter because of philosophical differences.
Back in the day, that move would have happened behind closed doors rather than in public. But our real times lives on ‘blast keep it real’ as the youth like to say but is it the best choice to do so? Choice breeds responsibility.
If the organizers wanted to shut down Michigan, they did.
Anyway Carter with his laptop showed images of the deceased LaQuan McDonald’s body caught the attention of every media outlet who gathered around him to capture a glimpse of the horrific images.