“Shoot to kill.” -Mayor Richard J. Daley
The first time I watched the video of Eric Garner being choked to death by NYC police, while desperately exclaiming “I can’t breathe,” I burst into tears. I cried so hard, I shocked myself. I have no relation to Eric Garner or his family, but I’d question the humanity of any individual who’s able to witness that video and not feel SOMETHING. As for me, my “something” was hurt, pain, confusion, and rage all wrapped together. Before I was able to catch my own breath, I discovered yet another Black man was shot and killed at the hands of police, not even one month later: Mike Brown. We cried in disbelief. We marched. My husband and I drove to Ferguson to pay our respects to Mike Brown and show support to that community. While in the midst of trying to process how this could happen again, Tamir Rice was murdered shot and killed by police in Cleveland. My father called and said, “It’s open season on the Black man.” And I believed him.
I must state the obvious; certain parts of the Chicago are plagued with violence and that’s disheartening. However, I felt a sense of pride knowing that no one in my city had died at the hands of police. I even suggested to colleagues that Mayor Rahm must have had a meeting with CPD, sternly giving word that what was happening in other cities could absolutely NOT occur in Chicago. Boy was I wrong. The truth was, it had already occurred in Chicago, and as someone who’s a self proclaimed “media maven” it baffles me as to how the story of LaQuan McDonald slipped by me.
The details surrounding the death of LaQuan McDonald are a bit ambiguous. Police responded to a man breaking into cars, which was LaQuan. He had a knife in his possession. LaQuan didn’t comply with police orders to drop the knife. He had PCP in his system. He was shot 16 times. I repeat, HE WAS SHOT 16 TIMES.
1 shot = “I feared for my life.”
16 shots = “I’m going to kill him.”
This is the reasoning Jason Van Dyke has given for shooting Laquan 16 times. Even though the vicious cycle of police brutality has given the Black male more validation to fear for their lives while in the presence of police, Van Dyke was “scared,” but he’s still alive. And let’s not forget the fact that Van Dyke remained employed AFTER committing murder.
The fact that a Black man has become a fatal victim of police brutality in Chicago isn’t what breaks my heart. Let’s face it, racism is alive and well, and dwells EVERYWHERE. However, I am saddened to learn that the reason I hadn’t heard anything about the murder of LaQuan McDonald could be due to the fact that the city immediately settled with his family for 5 million dollars. This was an attempt to prevent the video from never being released. It also hurts to know LaQuan died as a ward of the state. His grandmother had custody of him, until she passed away last year. My mind wonders about the “family” that received the 5 million dollars, and if he felt loved at the time of his death. Lastly, today Jason Van Dyke was charged with murder. An entire year AFTER committing the murder of LaQuan McDonald, and only as an attempt to curb potential riots that may occur in the city once the video is released. Pawn moves. Terrible.
“This is a terrible thing. I’ve been in many demonstrations all across the south, but I can say that I have never seen – even in Mississippi and Alabama – mobs as hostile and as hate-filled as I’ve seen here in Chicago.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Chicago has become the city I love and hate. It was only a matter of time before the racism that Dr. King spoke of after visiting and living in Chicago in 1966, would show its ugly head again. I guess bad habits die hard.
R.I.P. LaQuan McDonald
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