Activists demand soon-to-be-released Jason Van Dyke face federal charges
CHICAGO — Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, whose fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald put the city at the center of a national debate over race and law enforcement, will be released from jail early next month.
On Thursday, community activists announced their desire to see federal prosecutors bring charges against Van Dyke, calling on the Magnificent Mile Association to put pressure on the justice system as well.
“We don’t want to see Cartier vandalized or look at Burberry and Louis – it goes against what we believe in. It harms our cause. But at the same time, being black and being black in America for 32 years, I get it and I get it,” said justice reform advocate William Calloway.
With memories of the 2020 unrest and looting fresh in the city’s collective memory, racial justice activists gathered on Michigan Avenue – the symbolic heart of Chicago’s wealth and power – to ask for help from the members of the hottest spot in town. They want Mag Mile businesses to pressure politicians and prosecutors to intervene in the Van Dyke case.
“That would carry a lot of weight,” Calloway said. “They may not care about black lives and black bodies, but they do care about their property.”
Activists say they are upset that Van Dyke is being released from prison before he has served half his sentence. Van Dyke police dash cam video captured Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times. In October 2018, Van Dyke was convicted of second degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. He was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison, but would only serve about three years and three months pending release.
“We can see with clear eyes that Jason Van Dyke has received preferential treatment,” said Dr. Lashawna Littrice of Make Noize for Change.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Van Dyke will be released on February 3.
“He doesn’t deserve to walk free on February 3, and we’re going to make sure he doesn’t,” Littrice said.
On Thursday, racial justice activists called on U.S. Attorney John Lausch to step in and file federal charges against Van Dyke.
“We need John Lausch to step up and show his office has integrity,” said community activists Ja’Mal Green.
Lausch’s spokesperson declined to comment on the matter “at this time.”
Activists said there were “rumblings” about a response from outraged members of the black community.
“It shouldn’t be about people getting up and fighting, getting up and locking guns, and companies losing money, and rioting and all that,” Green said. “It shouldn’t take us to get any kind of justice in Chicago.”
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