Like most Americans, the first time I heard of Laquan McDonald was when the news said that a seventeen year old young black man had been shot sixteen times by a Chicago policeman over a year ago and that a judge had ordered the release of the video to the public. I immediately felt sick to my stomach and couldn’t hold back the tears… how in the world could something like that even happen! There wasn’t any reason for ever shooting a young man that many times regardless of the circumstances! I was totally horrified…and then fearful because if ever there was justification for the Black Lives Matter movement to go into action, this was it. I was sure Al Sharpton would descend on Chicago as he did in both Ferguson and Baltimore and we’d once again see another black community virtually destroyed by riots, luting and burning. So I prayed for God to intervene and for everything to stay peaceful; yet had to admit that I’d be more inclined to understand if it didn’t since this was the worst of all the previously publicized cases of young black men being killed by police. Of course, in that moment of horror and disbelief, I wasn’t thinking clearly; otherwise I would have realized that Al Sharpton wouldn’t descend on Chicago and BLM wouldn’t march through the streets of Chicago calling for the murder of policemen as they did in New York, Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore and elsewhere because Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emmanuel, is so closely associated with President Obama and their political agenda is more important to them than the life and cold blooded execution of one Laquan McDonald.
So I started trying to find out more about Laquan McDonald and why it took over one year to even hear about the case, much less that long for the officer who shot him to be charged and for the dashcam video to be released to the public. You can learn more about all of that here and here. That’s when I realized that the corrupt politics surrounding Laquan McDonald’s death and tragic life were just as reprehensible as his murder. It just doesn’t pass the smell test to think for one minute that the five million dollar payoff to Laquan’s mother (who didn’t even raise him or have custody of him since he was a ward of the state at the time of his death) and sister by the city of Chicago in the middle of a closely contested re-election bid by Mayor Rahm Emmanuel was anything but hush money in the furtherance of a shameless cover-up; which the timeline of related events makes abundantly clear to anyone interested in knowing the truth.
Laquan McDonald was shot and killed on October 20, 2014 and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel failed to win re-election as Chicago’s mayor on February 24, 2015 as expected and was therefore facing a very close runoff election on April 7, 2015. As the story goes, the family of Laquan McDonald first requested sixteen million dollars from the city on February 27th and a settlement was approved sometime in March; in other words before the election on April 7, 2015 and only made public on April 14th…not too surprisingly just days AFTER Mayor Rahm Emmanuel had been safely re-elected! A stipulation in the settlement also required Laquan McDonald’s family to keep it “confidential,” which their attorney said specifically meant not releasing the dashcam video and opposing the release of it when journalist Brandon Smith sued to get the video released to the public. Here’s a fairly detailed account of why it looks and smells like a cover-up, along with the time line. And here’s the news conference with Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Superintendent Gary McCarthy before the release of the video showing that Laquan McDonald was murdered in cold blood. It made me sick to my stomach to hear Rahm Emmanuel refer to the senseless cold blooded murder of this young man as an “opportunity for healing.” What kind of person even thinks something like that! Not only that, even though everyone has repeatedly stated that Officer Van Dyke was stripped of his police powers immediately after Laquan’s death, according to what Rahm Emmanuel said during the news conference on November 24, 2015, that didn’t happen until sometime in January because he said the officer was stripped of his police powers “ten months ago”…three months after Laquan’s death.
Here’s the dashcam video released by the police, based on which it’s impossible to understand why it took FOUR HUNDRED DAYS to charge Officer Van Dyke with murder! And despite all of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’ lame attempts to justify such an outrageous delay, the evidence provided in this video of her news conference detailing the events surrounding Laquan McDonald’s death, including the immediately available witness statements, only proves that there was no justification for delaying public awareness of this case, the investigation and the inevitable murder charges against Officer Van Dyke. And she even admitted that she only announced the charges because a judge ordered the release of the video! I also found it interesting that she said the FBI contacted her about the case since I’ve always heard that law enforcement officials are the ones who usually request the involvement of the FBI. That’s now her excuse for the unconscionable delay, but it doesn’t pass the smell test because Michael Brown was shot on August 14, 2014 and the Department of Justice report on the case was released on March 4, 2015, and that was without a clear and literally smoking gun video. Officer Ray Tensing was charged with murdering Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati, Ohio just ten days after his death. Officer Michael Slager was charged with the murder of Walter Scott two months after his death, and the independent investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division was conducted and completed WHILE investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division were ongoing. Officers Norris Greenhouse Jr. and Derrick Stafford were charged with the murder of six year old Jeremy Mardis within three days of his death in Marksville, Louisiana. Freddie Gray died on April 19, 2015 and on May 1, 2015, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney announced murder charges against all six officers involved in his arrest on April 15, 2015 WHILE the Department of Justice investigation continues. Needless to say, this list could go on and on, but it’s more than sufficient to prove that Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’ claim that it takes so long to investigate and bring charges against police officers because they’re very “complicated” cases is nothing but hot air and a pathetic attempt to justify her office’s failure to bring murder charges against Officer Jason Van Dyke in a reasonable and timely manner. And there really isn’t any reasonable explanation for such a failure other than protecting Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s bid for re-election, which is exactly what her unsolicited comments in his defense at the end of her above statement clearly indicate. If the public had been aware of Laquan McDonald’s murder at the time it occurred, there’s absolutely no doubt that Rahm Emmanuel would not have been re-elected because that was just three months after Eric Garner’s death and two months after the death of Michael Brown and only a month before the riots in Ferguson after Officer Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted. And twelve year old Tamir Rice was killed by a police officer just a few weeks after Laquan’s death, so the most likely reaction to news of how Laquan McDonald was murdered at that time would have been so explosive that it would have been difficult for anyone to contain; thus the cover-up.
Then in addition to the news accounts that police reports from that night don’t line up with what the dashcam video shows, here’s a NBC report indicating that Chicago police probably destroyed/deleted eighty-six minutes of video evidence from the Burger King near the Laquan McDonald shooting. And this is Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s news conference announcing the firing of Superintendent Garry McCarthy , the apparent scapegoat for this clearly criminal enterprise. But as this Chicago Tribune article reveals, there are still many unanswered questions about the investigation into Laquan’s death and the subsequent cover-up, and it’s obvious that the news media doesn’t believe what they’re being told any more than I do. So I hope they’ll keep digging until someone finds the smoking gun that puts Rahm Emmanuel in prison, along with everyone else who covered up Laquan McDonald’s murder just so he’d be re-elected.
Sadly, I can’t help wondering what a difference it could have made in the lives of all the Laquan McDonalds out there if Chicago’s city council had been as willing to invest the five million dollars hush money they paid to insure Rahm Emmanuel’s re-election to better the lives of kids and families in their poorest and most disadvantaged neighborhoods. But the sad truth is that the city of Chicago deemed Laquan McDonald worth a lot more after his death than when he was alive; just as the city of Baltimore deemed Freddie Gray worth so much more after his death than when he was alive. How did America become a nation with such shameless political priorities!
Update: After publishing this, I found this very good New York Times article indicating that a DOJ investigation into the cover-up of Laquan McDonald’s murder is pending! Maybe it’s time for all those community organizers in Chicago to start a recall movement to let Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and his corrupt cronies know exactly what they think of their kind of dirty politics. Laquan McDonald deserves nothing less!