The protest group, the Chicago Light Brigade, held its annual vigil for victims of violence in the city on Tuesday, Dec. 15. But despite the peaceful protest, Chicago police arrested those who formed a 16-person blockade on Congress Parkway for impeding traffic.
The protest follows Tuesday’s City Hall hearing discussing police misconduct in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting. The hearing posed a bill for the recall of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s election for the arguable mishandling of the McDonald trial.
Laquan McDonald was fatally shot by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke back in Oct. 2014, but the recent release of footage from the night of the shooting proved that McDonald’s death was a homicide. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, videos from the police car’s dashboard camera did not publicly surface until this November.
Nearly 13 months after the shooting, Alvarez announced that Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder. He was held without bail for six days. On Nov. 30, Van Dyke was granted bail and was released after posting a portion of his bail funds.
Protesters calling for Alvarez’s and Emanuel’s resignations are outraged. Many feel that Van Dyke should be serving his full sentence for committing first-degree murder.
So why did it take over a year for the video to finally surface?
Scott Reeder of the Illinois News Network blames bureaucrats and politicians for trying to cover up the truth of what happened the night of the shooting. Police reports were conflicting, and yet another case of police brutality raised the issue of race in defense of McDonald.
Brandon Smith, a freelance reporter, saw the holes in the early police reports and filed a request for the dashboard camera video from the police cars on the scene that night. Under Illinois’s freedom of information law, Smith took the issue to court after his first request was denied.
The video was finally released, showing that McDonald did not lunge at Van Dyke as the original report stated. Because of the violent nature of Van Dyke’s approach, the death was ruled as a homicide.
Tuesday’s protesters formed a 16-person barricade to represent the 16 times McDonald was shot.
The hot button issue of police brutality and gun control is pressed once again in light of McDonald’s murder. Protesters argued that gun control laws need to be tightened, but what happens when the gun is in the hands of the law?
People are speaking up for more than just police gun handling. Many argue both for and against gun control laws and both sides of the issue are posed when it comes to gun control. Some people argue that only a small fraction of guns are used for violence with the old phrase, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. More than 38 million Americans hunt and fish, for instance, and those who own guns say they use them legally — not for murder.
Proponents of tightened gun laws argue that there is no way to tell a person’s motive when they are purchasing the gun, and propose that background checks among other extensive screenings should be administered before selling a gun to someone.
Although the issues of gun control and police brutality are hotly debated, one thing stands true thanks to the courage of people like Brandon Smith: you should always fight for what you believe in.