A few hours after the release of the video by Chicago police that shows white police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald, a black teen, 16 times, hundreds of demonstrators took to the city's streets chanting "16 shots."
The protests, so far, have remained peaceful. But people are outraged because they want answers. They want to know why it took law enforcement authorities over a year to release footage of the incident.
It is unacceptable that the police video footage of #LaquanMcDonald’s murder took over a year to be released.— NAACP (@NAACP) November 24, 2015
Why did it take a year to indict a CPD officer who shot a kid 16 times? Would it have happened today if judge hadn't ordered video release?— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) November 24, 2015
After all, it’s because of the graphic video evidence Van Dyke has been charged with murder.
McDonald’s shooting is one of the many cases of excessive use of force by police officers against people of color. However, when it comes to Chicago, the situation is even worse.
There is a general impression among Chicagoans that police misconduct often goes unpunished which has created distrust between the cops and the people of the city.
In McDonald’s case, protesters are asking why the authorities stayed silent for more than a year when they could’ve prosecuted Van Dyke before.
Others are accusing police of lying about facts and burying the video evidence to blame McDonald.
“If this were a gang shooting, this would have been tied up quickly,” said Jamie Kalven, a founder of the nonprofit Invisible Institute, which compiles reports of police misconduct online. “I think there’s a pattern of ‘investigation as coverup.’ As long as you can say there is a pending investigation, you don’t have to acknowledge the reality of what happened.”
Van Dyke’s murder charge is not enough to bridge the gap of trust between the people and police of Chicago.
Sure, the protesters must maintain peace and calm but the major responsibility lies on the shoulders of the authorities. Rules and regulations that kept Van Dyke safe for the past year must be reviewed and changed. If the system keeps murderers out of jail, it needs to be fixed. As soon as possible.