CHICAGO – In an effort to prevent violence and destruction in this racially divided city if former officer Jason Van Dyke is found not guilty for the tragic shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, a group of very influential former black police officers announced today they are launching a community pride campaign to prevent such actions and to discourage outside instigators from traveling to the nation’s third largest city to raise havoc.
Richard Wooten, a retired longtime CPD police officer, who is president of the Gathering Point Community Council, an organization that has been on the front line advocating for reform of the department and improving relations between police and community, said residents, especially property owners, must be informed that there are strong rumors that civil unrest will take place if the jury finds Van Dyke not guilty for Laquan’s death. The trial enters its second week today.
This case can turn Chicago to its worst if we are not careful,” said Wooten, who was a CPD officer for more than two decades. “It can be very a negative response if we do not address by making the community aware of the underlying tension. We don’t want the community sleeping on this. We need residents to stay engaged and informed about what is going on with this case.”
Approximately 9:45 pm, on October 20, 2014, Officer Van Dyke was one of several officers called to the scene of an alleged burglary of trucks in a neighborhood on the city’s South West Side, near 41st Street and Kildare Avenue. Witnesses informed officers that the black suspect was armed with a knife. Twelve minutes later, Laquan’s lifeless body was sprawled in the middle of nearby Pulaski Road. He had been gunned down by Van Dyke, who fired at least 16 bullets into Laquan as the teenager walked away with what appeared to be a knife in his hand. This shooting garnered little attention until a dashcam video of the incident was released to the public 13 months later, launching massive protests about the excessive use of force by police officers on people of color. If the jury acquits Van Dyke, Wooten wants the protests to be peaceful.
“One of things we want to do is keep the community informed about the Van Dyke case,” Wooten said. “We also want to keep residents engaged and taking ownership about maintaining a safe community by not tearing up the community because of anger towards the criminal justice system. One way of going about this is telling people that even though the case might turn out a certain way, don’t put yourself in a position where you want to destroy your community.”
Wooten added, “This is the community where your parents live, and this is where your grandparents reside. They worked hard to develop these communities, and they did it with limited resources. It would be detrimental to chase away the limited resources they have received. So, this campaign will be about community pride.”
The word on the streets, Wooten said, is that instigators will travel to Chicago if Van Dyke is not indicted for murder.
“They come with the wrong intentions,” Wooten said. “They come to destroy and cause havoc. We want residents in our community to understand that when they come into our community, we want to kick them out of our community. We don’t want them to come in our community, tearing up and edging us on to tear up our community, exciting our young people to tear up their community. Once they destroy our community, they go back to their homes elsewhere. We must build awareness about the case, the developments and what we can do to display our frustrations if things do not work out as they should.” ###
Richard Wooten, The Crime Agitator, is a longtime Chicago police officer, a community advocate and the founder and president of the Gathering Point Community Council. Gathering Point, a 501 c (3) non-for-profit organization was established in 1998 as a mentoring organization for at risk youth. In time, Gathering Point has evolved to become Gathering Point Community Council, an organization dedicated to restoring values in at risk communities through the philosophy of for the people, by the people. The organization also works to improve relations between law enforcement officials and citizens. For additional information about Gathering Point Community Council visithttps://www.gatheringpointcc.org/. To arrange interviews, please contact Jerry Thomas, firstname.lastname@example.org (312) 285- 5166.