Chicago: Murders by Police, Lies, Cover-up and Crocodile Tears... and Protests in the Streets

Updated December 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On October 20, 2014, Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old Black youth, was gunned down and killed in cold blood by white Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. Laquan was shot 16 times in 14 seconds as he walked down the middle of the street. This was followed by a huge conspiracy by the Chicago Police Department, city officials—and let’s not rule out the White House—to cover up this crime. The video of this murder was not made public until more than a year later—and only after the city was ordered to release it by a court.

For essential background to this story see:

The Police Murder of Laquan McDonald in Chicago and the Coverup
The Whole Damn System is Guilty as Hell

Chicago, December 9.

Chicago, December 9
Chicago, December 9. Photos above: Bobbosphere.

Chicago, December 9
Photo: Revolution/ received the following report from Chicago about the ongoing protests against the murder of Laquan McDonald:

On Wednesday, December 9, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered a high-profile speech to a packed City Council meeting. This was a high-stakes bid to get control of a situation of deteriorating legitimacy of the mayor’s office and core institutions of the Chicago police and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. Seats in the main floor of the City Council chamber were by invitation only. The broader public either couldn’t get in or were packed in a balcony so that Emanuel and the media wouldn’t hear their angry shouts in response to the mayor’s speech.

Emanuel offered criticism and apologies, along with few crocodile tears, for the cold-blooded police execution of Laquan McDonald and some other police crimes, and offered promises of reform. Emanuel also directly defended the talk from the Chicago police about what a “dangerous” job they have, even as video after video make clear that what’s really dangerous is being Black or Brown in Chicago (or anywhere else in the U.S.). Emanuel also tried to change the subject and spoke about street violence among the people in order to remind people how supposedly vital the marauding police are for maintaining order. But while criticizing some police practices “on his watch” and promising changes, Emanuel’s credibility is battered, particularly because the mayor’s office and the State’s Attorney were involved in the cover-up of Laquan’s murder, including blocking the release of the graphic video for over a year.

Rahm Emanuel’s speech was an attempt to restore credibility, unite those in power, and undercut the anger and momentum of the growing protest movement in the streets. It failed. People were not buying it. And the speech did not resolve sharp infighting in the halls of power. A defiant spirit filled the air as people spilled out after Emanuel’s speech and gathered outside, with many speaking bitterness over the outrages that have come down on the Black community. New contingents of protesters arrived and a speak-out began. Many called for Emanuel to be ousted. A revolutionary called for indicting ALL those who were part of the murder of Laquan McDonald and the conspiracy to cover it up. She said this wasn’t the time to try and patch up the system that has brought 400 years of murder and brutality down on Black people, but to get with Bob Avakian and the RCP and prepare for an actual revolution.

Hundreds were now arriving, including groups of high school and college students who had walked out, as well as teachers and people joining off the sidewalk. People began marching and things quickly escalated as cops went after and grabbed a young high school activist. This show of intimidation backfired. People flooded out into the intersection and blocked the paddy wagon until the activist was released. As the demonstration marched through the streets, it grew to over 1,000, with additional groups of students arriving and people coming off the sidewalks to join. Many more than 1,000 participated at one point or other during the afternoon. People marched to City Hall and did a die-in in the street, marched to the Board of Trade in the financial district, up through the busy State Street shopping area, then to Michigan Avenue and up through the Gold Coast, where protesters stopped at the headquarters of the Catholic Archdiocese and at an elite high school. People marched and disrupted traffic for five hours! Many demonstrators continued on to protest at the Police Board hearing that evening.

Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?

"Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?" is a clip from the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. The film is of the November 2014 historic Dialogue on a question of great importance in today's world between the Revolutionary Christian Cornel West and the Revolutionary Communist Bob Avakian. Watch the entire film here.

The demand for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign became the main demand of the protests. And there were more people who came to protest around other demands, for example around education and pension cutbacks; much of this discontent coalesced around demanding Emanuel’s ouster.

People Continue Taking to the Streets

The video of Laquan’s murder, and the righteous actions by thousands of people in going into the streets and disrupting business as usual, has ripped wide open and forced into view, for many people of all strata, the brutal reality about what especially Black youth routinely face at the hands of the police. Combined with this, the top officials, who people are trained to rely on to check great injustices, have been caught in a conspiracy to cover up. The ubiquitous chant of the outpouring has been “16 Shots... and a Cover-up!”

This situation is making it harder for authorities to prevent further exposures from spilling out. Now the release of the video of the police murder of Laquan McDonald has been followed by the release earlier this week of the video of Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson being shot in the back while running away from police. Nonetheless, State’s Attorney Alvarez announced there would be NO charges against the killer cops. A lead CPD detective is on trial for sticking a gun down the throat of a young Black man. Two days ago another video became public—a vicious beating and tasing in jail, which led to the death of Philip Coleman, a mentally distressed University of Chicago grad student. The release of more videos of police brutality is expected. Some heads have rolled, including Superintendent of Police Garry McCarthy and the head of the Detective Division, as well as the head of the Independent Police Review Board (IPRA).

Protests Continue on Thursday

Medical students die-in at City Hall, Chicago.
Medical students and residents from the University of Chicago, Rush University Medical Center and other schools did a dramatic die-in at City Hall. AP photo

People are feeling angry and empowered, with right on their side. Youths who normally are kept isolated and suppressed in hellish neighborhoods have defiantly stepped out with a sense that the isolation can be broken down. A crew of Black youths marched through a downtown street Thursday night challenging passersby, shouting “16 shots!?” And quite a few, including professional-looking people, responded with the right answer: “16 shots.”

On Thursday morning, 100 medical students and residents from the University of Chicago, Rush University Medical Center and other schools did a dramatic die-in at City Hall. It was a highly visible and dramatic sight: A row of people wearing white coats lying on the sidewalk outside City Hall, “dying in” for 16 minutes to signify the 16 shots cop Jason Van Dyke pumped into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. They carried signs with the Hippocratic Oath-associated phrase “Do No Harm,” and they called out police brutality as a public health crisis.

One of the students explained her actions this way: “We want Rahm Emanuel to resign because we’re tired of the cover-up. We’re tired of all of the police brutality. We’re tired of the systemic racism in Chicago and something needs to be done about it.”

Chicago, December 10
Chicago, December 10. Photo: Bobbosphere

Later in the day there was a rally and march called by the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC). Speakers included family members of people killed by Chicago police telling their stories, one of the victims of torture by CPD, and a representative of Arab American Action Network, who connected this International Human Rights Day action with the U.S. government’s role in murder and terror in Palestine. Marchers carried a very long banner with names of victims of CPD. Hundreds marched in the streets to City Hall, stopping for die-ins at City Hall and the State’s Attorney’s office. Chants included “Rahm resign” and “Alvarez resign,” as well as “Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell!” Revolution Club members led a chant: “What do we need to get out of this mess? Revolution Nothing Less!” After the CPAC march to City Hall ended, many stayed in the streets for another hour.

The CPAC action was organized around the demand: “DOJ STOP your complicity in police crimes, prosecute the torturous killer cops!” The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced it will do an investigation of the Chicago police, which has now been embraced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and promoted by national figures like Hillary Clinton as the route to justice. Revolutionaries talked to people about the DOJ’s actual history and role around police murders, and got into why relying on DOJ is “not only a dead end but a deadly illusion.” (See “Reality Check: Answers to Burning Questions arising in the wake of the release of the video of the murder of Laquan McDonald and the extensive cover-up that followed.”)





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