Candidates and Officials Brace for Verdict in Jason Van Dyke Trial

Several community leaders have made statements about the guilty verdict in the Jason Van Dyke trial; the jury rendered Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald in 2014. A sigh of relief was heard and felt across the city, as the community braced for unrest if the verdict was any different.

Laquan McDonald’s, graduation photo alongside officer Jason Van Dyke’s mug shot

The following statements have been received by the Chicago Defender about the historic verdict.

Barbara Lumpkin
“Laquan McDonald’s family and much of the city of Chicago have waited for nearly three years hoping to see justice served. While many of us who watched that disturbing and unforgettable video believed that a first-degree murder conviction would be a reasonable outcome, the jury found Officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and among other charges. The fact that the jury delivered a verdict that finally sends a message that no one—not even a police officer—is above the law is significant.
Since the release of the dash-cam video in 2015, the League has been working with a coalition of community groups to advocate for meaningful police reform, including the elimination of excessive use of force. This guilty verdict for Officer Van Dyke is a good outcome, which we hope provides some solace for Laquan McDonald’s family and friends, but it is only the beginning. The League will continue to work for the elimination of any institutional discrimination and prejudices that disadvantage African Americans and other vulnerable groups.” Barbara Lumpkin, interim President & CEO, Chicago Urban League


Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia

“The conviction of Jason Van Dyke on 2nd Degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery provides some small sense of justice, but only shines light on how much work needs to be done to create a public safety system that roots out corruption, prioritizes transparency, and institutionalizes true accountability to the people of Chicago. Moreover, the conviction does not address the collective public policy failures that created the circumstances of Laquan’s life, leading up to his death.

Chicagoans have had enough. We must focus our energy on the institutional changes necessary to move Chicago forward. Those changes include a public safety policy that hinges on transparency to the public, more community input in the role of police in communities, and leadership willing to set forth recommendations in the Fraternal Order of Police contract that take into account what is in the best interests of Chicagoans.

Moreover, we must evaluate how our city budget prioritizes police infrastructure over the necessary investments in an inclusive economy, affordable housing, mental health services, and other components of thriving communities. Throughout the trial, Jason Van Dyke repeatedly stated that his killing of McDonald is what he was ‘trained’ to do. Yet out of the dozens of recommendations set forth in the Department of Justice report, the current Mayor decided that spending $95 million on a new police training facility should be top priority. This is unacceptable. Right now, the city of Chicago spends roughly 38% of its budget on public safety. Moreover, police misconduct cases are costing us $1.7 billion dollars.

Until we have leadership committed to true, institutional change in our public safety policy, Laquan McDonald’s death reminds us that we will pay both a fiscal and moral price.”

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