In October 2014, Chicago police responding to a call shot and killed Laquan McDonald, 17, sixteen times. He was acting erratically at the time and was holding a knife. An autopsy showed that he had PCP in his body at the time of his death. Police blamed the killing on McDonald, contending that he lunged at the officers, who felt that their lives were in danger. Tensions grew in the city before Officer Jason Van Dyke received murder charges on November 24. He became the first serving police officer in Chicago history to be charged with a murder while on duty. A court-ordered release of a dash-cam video not only put into doubt statements police made in the wake of the shooting, but has also galvanized protesters.
The dash-cam video of the scene showed McDonald walking erratically down the middle of the street at night. Within seconds of the arrival of the backup vehicle, which was bearing the dash-cam, an officer can be seen aiming his weapon at McDonald and firing. After McDonald goes down, the officer continues to shoot. Puffs of dust can be seen as the bullets strike the pavement around McDonald as his body jerked from the impacts. In all, 16 bullets were fired. Allegedly, Officer Van Dyke was reloading when he was told to stop by his partner.
The city of Chicago has settled a $5 million lawsuit with the family of a black teenager fatally shot by police in October 2014. The officer involved in the shooting has not been named or charged, but has been suspended pending an investigation.
37-year-old Officer Van Dyke had been a Chicago police officer since 2001. A federal jury in a civil case found Van Dyke committed excessive force while handcuffing a suspect in 2007. While he was put on a desk job following the shooting, as of November 24 he was taken off the payroll. He will now face a jury trial for first-degree murder.
The Chicago public school system deemed the video so disturbing that it send students home with a letter to parents stating that counselors will be available to discuss the video. "It is graphic. It is violent. It is chilling," said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez while speaking to reporters. "This video will tear at the hearts of all Chicagoans."
"People have a right to be angry, people have a right to protest, people have a right to free speech, but they do not have a right to commit criminal acts," Police Chief Garry McCarthy said at late afternoon press conference on November 24. Flanked by a solemn Mayor Rahm Emanuel, McCarthy said "Every day in this city, you see thousands of officers performing admirably.” He added, "The officer in this case took a young man's life, and he's going to have to account for his actions." Chicago police have prepared for, and dreaded, the release of the video and the resulting protests.
Questions and theories have circulated online and in public about why prosecutors took 13 months to bring charges — and about whether the police department has tried to bury the incident. Leftists such as Shaun King have theorized Alvarez was trying to protect the police department. An NBC Chicago affiliate quoted a Burger King district manager, who claimed that police deleted a separate video from a security camera at a Burger King restaurant less than 100 yards away. Even though 86 minutes of the video are now missing, the city's Independent Police Review Authority said there was "no credible evidence" of police tampering. Alvarez repeated that view on November 24.
So far, the City of Chicago has paid Laquan's family $5 million.
On November 23, police chief McCarthy drew attention to a previous case of a killing of an unarmed black woman. McCarthy called for the firing of Officer Dante Servin, who was acquitted by a judge of the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, a black woman. Mayor Emanuel also condemned Servin, saying he "does not deserve to wear a police star or to patrol our communities." Servin was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter and other charges in 2014. Servin was off-duty at the time. The shooting occurred outside his home.
Protests and players:
Within hours of the court-ordered release of the video, hundreds of protesters filled a major Chicago intersection on November 24 and into the pre-dawn hours on November 25.
At the intersection of Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue in the South Loop, about three dozen people gathered at an art gallery to reflect and discuss their emotions over the incident. As more people joined after the release of the video, they marched one block to Roosevelt Road. They chanted "16 shots!" and "Is this a joke? They think it's a joke!" They eventually filled the major intersection in protest. Chicago police would not say whether arrests were made. However, Aislinn Sol – a Black Lives Matter organizer in Chicago – claimed that at least three activists were taken into police custody, and the crowd planned to await their release.
Rev. Michael Pfleger – a Catholic priest and veteran activist - anticipates rallies throughout this week. From the pulpit on November 21, he urged parishioners to engage in civil disobedience and boycott Black Friday shopping. Pfleger called on protesters to sit on sidewalks in the main downtown shopping district of Michigan Avenue. Disrupting sales, said Pfleger, will be effective in protesting McDonald's death. On November 24, Pfleger said "If we want young people to believe in the system, the system has got to work."
Cornell Brooks, national leader of the NAACP, called for “forceful” protests in the wake of the video’s release.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago police tracked protesters’ posts on social media and kept a log of demonstrations around Chicago, some with no connection to the protests in Ferguson MO that followed the fatal shooting of teenaged Michael Brown by a white police officer. Among the events logged were a meeting of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a protest demanding a raise in the minimum wage, and a “Fur Free” march on Michigan Avenue. Police said they were using open-source information.
When an informant told police that less than peaceful groups were poised to take over a On Nov. 6, the police say an informant told them protesters planned another demonstration if the Ferguson grand jury “comes down as favorable to police,” according to an internal police report. The informant reportedly was “extremely worried” that “less peaceful” groups would take over a protest against the acquittal of Ferguson MO police officer Darren Wilson in November 2014. Police identified four groups that had participated in violent Ferguson events: the Black Panther Party; the Black Rebels, a self-described “urban militia”; the Revolution Club, which had protested police tactics; and Anonymous, a collection of anti-surveillance activists who’ve hacked government and corporate websites.
When a Missouri grand jury announced no indictment against Officer Wilson, protesters marched towards downtown Chicago and briefly closed down the iconic Lake Shore Drive. The police expanded the investigation to include more than three dozen organizations and social media groups, including: We Charge Genocide, which had organized the protest outside police headquarters; Occupy Chicago, which undercover officers infiltrated in 2011 and 2012; and Boyd relatives and supporters.
Jesse Jackson said of the investigation, “There is no basis for having Rainbow PUSH on such a list.” He said that the police operation brought to mind the infamous Red Squad, a police unit that infiltrated civil rights groups in the 1960s and 1970s. “Spying on our organization is insulting and unnecessary.”
However, police spokesman justified the operation, arguing that some protests in Ferguson became violent and that Chicago protests interrupted traffic on public streets. “We have lawyers working side by side with police officers making sure people’s rights are protected,” spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. The post-Ferguson operation lasted only two months and was closed in January 2015. In October of this year, police refused to disclose details of the inquiry, saying it was still “pending.” Guglielmi refused to say whether Chicago cops are currently conducting surveillance. “We don’t talk about open investigations,” he said. Police have infiltrated labor unions, the Occupy movement, and anti-NATO Summit protesters in the past, using undercover officers.
Speaking for the FBI Special Agent Joan Hyde said “The FBI works collaboratively with our law enforcement partners at all levels developing intelligence to further our efforts to combat violent crime and protect our communities from threats.”
Prominent among protesters in Chicago, as well as other metropolitan areas such as Milwaukee and Minneapolis is the Black Lives Matter movement. Its Twitter account regularly features statements by activists and celebrities, as well as posting videos of protests.
On April 30, 2014, Dontre Hamilton was fatally shot by Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney at the city’s Red Arrow Park. Manney allegedly fired his service pistol 14 times during the affray. Hamilton, a black man, was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. Manney is white. Even while a district attorney eventually declined to prosecute him finding the use of force to be in self-defense, Manney fired for allegedly instigating a fight with Hamilton after an inappropriate pat-down. The two struggled over Manney’s baton.
As of April 2015, there had been a federal investigation into the circumstances of Hamilton’s death so as to determine whether any civil rights violations occurred. Investigators have concluded so far that Hamilton was not compliant with a prescription for medication, and had been sleeping in a park. The federal investigation did not find any civil rights violations.
Resentment is still smoldering over the shooting death of Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old black male, at the hands of a white police officer. Officer Matt Kinney was not charged in the shooting.
Protests and players:
The Black Lives Matter movement has protested Hamilton's death. Also figuring into the mix was Jesse Jackson Sr., who met with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in December 2014. Barrett said they had a “constructive discussion.” For his part, Jackson told demonstrators at a protest at Milwaukee’s federal courthouse that the shooting by Manney was “immoral” and “illegal.” Jackson said, "They killed Dontre, but Dontre still lives. There is power in the blood of innocents." Protesters chanted "the people united will never be defeated" and "black lives matter."
On Novmeber 19, 2015, six demonstrators were arrested during a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in downtown Milwaukee. The event occurred at Red Arrow Park, where 500 people came to watch the tree lighting and hear a children’s choir. It was at that same place where Dontre Hamilton died.
A group called The Coalition for Justice organized the protest after federal officials decided against civil rights charges against the officer who killed Dontre Hamilton in the same park in 2014. Among those arrested was Hamilton’s brother, Nathan. “We’ve done what we can to accommodate lawful assemblies. I think we’ve have a darn good track record doing that. I think we’ve struck an appropriate balance, but once they overstep the line and decide to disrupt other people’s events. Then they have to be arrested if they refuse to comply, and they refused to comply,” Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.
Protesters tried to drown out the Lincoln Center of the Arts Choir. “This is not a time of celebration. This is a time of grief and mourning, and business as usual cannot continue in Milwaukee. Because of the way that the police have been allowed to treat people of color, people in poverty, the way they interact with the citizens,” All Peoples Church Pastor Steve Jerbi said.
"Jail's not going to scare us," Nate Hamilton said. "They've been wanting to arrest him (Nate) ever since we started to protest. They've been waiting to do so," said Maria Hamilton, the mother of Nate and Dontre. Hamilton was released.
Leftists have also Hundreds take to the streets of Madison May 13 in response to the non-indictment of Matt Kenney, the killer cop that on March 6 murdered Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old Black student.
Hundreds took to the streets of Madison May 13 in response to the non-indictment of Matt Kenney, the killer cop that on March 6 murdered Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old Black student.
On May 12, 2014, according to the leftist “Workers World,” “hundreds of Black and Brown youth and their allies took to the city’s streets that day and the next day to protest another injustice where a white police officer is not held accountable for killing a person of color.” Following up, another group - the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition - called for an all-day “Black-Out Wednesday” on the following day. They observed by gathering at the house where Robinson was slain.
The Coalition for Justice has met at the All People Church Havenwood Campus, where Pastor Jerbi is installed. A look at the group’s website reveals the group’s goal: “We demand justice for Tony, Dontre, Rekia Boyd, Freddie Grey and all victims of police terror.” Specifically, the Coalition for Justice seeks:
1. Amendment to Michael Bell law: Requiring that outside investigative agencies have no ties to unit being investigated;
2. The Milwaukee Police Department implement a Principal & Accessory policy for officers who witness criminal or excessive acts by fellow officers but do nothing to restrain or subdue them;
3. Any officer involved in any criminal investigation, be immediately suspended without pay until the investigation is concluded;
4. All information regarding any officer involved in a criminal investigation be publicly released at the time of the incident, including (but not limited to) the name of the officer and a copy the incident report filed;
5. The immediate appointment of community members to the remaining (two) open seats on the Fire and Police Commission by Mayor Tom Barrett;
6. Mandatory psychological evaluations for all officers who patrol our community streets every two years.
Yet another group – Wisconsin Bail Out the People – called for “Living wage jobs and other people’s needs, not police terror!”