The city of Chicago was on edge Tuesday evening as the Chicago Police Department prepared to release a video of the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke in October last year. The teen was black, the officer white.
Update: The full video is now available on YouTube via DNAInfo.
The video was recorded by a dashboard camera in the officer’s squad car. City officials had resisted releasing it, fearful that it could lead to violent protest and rioting in the context of “Black Lives Matter” protests elsewhere throughout the country.
A Cook County judge ruled last week that the video had to be released by the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. In response, the Chicago Police Department “has ordered most of its force into uniform and warned them of potentially longer hours and canceled days off,” the Chicago Tribune reports. Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez moved up a decision to charge the officer with first-degree murder–the first such charge of a uniformed officer in the city’s history–a decision authorities may hope will head off some public outrage.
Van Dyke’s attorney reportedly says he is innocent. McDonald was allegedly armed with a knife.
“Jason Van Dyke does not represent the Police Department,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel told a press conference on Tuesday evening. He urged citizens to remain peaceful, even if their protests were passionate. He urged citizens to “rise to the moment” and turn a moment of potential division into a moment of healing.
“This episode can be a moment of understanding and learning,” he said.
MacDonald’s family did not want the video released, according to ABC 7.
Jason Van Dyke’s actions violated the moral standards that bind our community together. pic.twitter.com/VTwTNO1Tjw
— ChicagosMayor (@ChicagosMayor) November 24, 2015
— wikipedia brown (@eveewing) November 24, 2015
The video’s release comes in the wake of a shooting at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis on Monday. Five protestors were shot and wounded, allegedly by white supremacists. “We debate whether they’re white supremacist or not because one of them got a Black Lives Matter sign,” one witness said in a video posted to YouTube and reported by Breitbart News.
— TDM (@tmcmill81) November 24, 2015
Father Michael Pfleger, one of the city’s most well-known radicals and an ally of Jeremiah Wright, has called for protests to block Michigan Avenue’s “Magnificent Mile,” the city’s most popular shopping area, on “Black Friday,” according to DNAInfo.