Disgraced former Chicago Police Officer and convicted murderer, Jason Van Dyke was released from prison today. After serving less than half of his 81-month sentence, Jason Van Dyke will now live his life as a convicted felon and will be monitored for three more years by the State.
This is all while McDonald’s aunt, grandmother, activists, and advocates pressure the Justice Department to file federal charges against him for the 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Mayor Lightfoot, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Gov. Pritzker along with community leaders expressed outrage and disappointment at the amount of time served for murdering a teenager.
“While I know this moment is disappointing, it should not prevent us from seeing the significant progress Van Dyke’s prosecution and conviction represent. He was the first officer in more than half a century to be convicted of a crime committed purportedly in the line of duty. This prosecution led to historic reforms, including comprehensive legislation that created the first-ever community police oversight body in Chicago, and a consent decree to oversee CPD reform. There is much more work to do, and it is by doing that work that we can heal from this and move forward towards justice and accountability every day.”-Mayor Lightfoot
“…any and all those who have the power to make sure that there’s accountability for the death of Laquan McDonald do everything that’s in their power to hold him accountable,” said State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
National NAACP President said in a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland that Van Dyke’s early release was “alarming” and asked for a federal grand jury investigation. Illinois State Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth also sent a joint letter citing former police officer and convicted murderer, Derek Chauvin who was charged on the state and federal level for killing George Floyd.
Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle also issued a statement saying, “Today as Jason Van Dyke is released from prison, we are again forced to reckon with this gross miscarriage of justice and the pervasive inequities built into our criminal justice system. While Van Dyke being convicted at all was a step in the right direction, his short sentence is at odds with the thousands of Black and Brown people behind bars for nonviolent offenses. And in the years following Laquan’s murder, we have lost more young Black and Brown men at the hands of police. I pray for peace for the McDonald family today and remain resolved to create a criminal justice system that is truly fair and just.”
Outspoken activist and IL Congressional Candidate, Kina Collins, will join a delegation of seventeen civil rights and community organizations to demand federal prosecution of Jason Van Dyke today at 4 pm at the Dirkson Federal Building. She says, “A racist, homicidal, trigger-happy former police officer who murdered a child walks free today in Chicago. The sentencing of Jason Van Dyke was a travesty for justice to begin with. An 81-month sentence for someone who pumped 16 bullets into the body of a Black child was a slap in the face. For him to be released in less than half of that time is a punch in the gut.
“The Black community here in Chicago has repeatedly called on our leaders to hold Jason Van Dyke accountable, and they—and the justice system—have failed us once again. “In the wake of Laquan McDonald’s killing, Black Chicagoans came out and marched demanding accountability. Van Dyke walking free is not accountablity. And that’s why we are showing up and marching—again—today.
“Jason Van Dyke deserves federal charges. He may walk free today, but our fight for accountability will not end today. We will keep organizing. We will keep holding our leaders accountable. We will keep fighting.”
Joining Collins in this evening’s protest are:
- The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
- Black Lives Matter-Chicago
- Good Kids Mad City
- Justice for Nick (Lee)
- Black Youth Project 100
- Arab-American Action Network
- Rainbow PUSH Coalition
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Southside Chicago
- Make Noize for Change
- U. S. Palestinian Community Network
- Christianaire Inc.
- Indivisible-Chicago South Side
- Chi Resists
- Tree of Life Justice League, Illinois
- Jewish Voice for Peace
- The Peoples Lobby
- Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Despite being convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery, Judge Vincent Gaughan only sentenced him for the murder conviction allowing Jason Van Dyke, the opportunity for an early release for “good behavior”. Van Dyke’s location is currently unknown as the Department of Corrections has not said where he was released from.
The Department of Justice has acknowledged that it has received letters but offered no comment as to if federal charges would be filed against Jason Van Dyke. 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was killed when Jason Van Dyke shot him 16 times. The murder was caught on dashcam video and was released to the public after community activists sued the city for the tape’s release.