Sixteen Shots. Four Years. One Conviction.

Oct 9, 2018
Originally published on October 10, 2018 10:41 am

On Friday, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted for murder in the second degree for the 2014 killing of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke was also convicted of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one count for each time he shot at McDonald.

Find a thread of the whole proceedings here, from WBEZ.

And you can see a video of the proceedings here.

Dahleen Glanton, writing in The Chicago Tribune, doesn’t think that Van Dyke’s conviction is sufficient to heal the city.

Indeed, this is the first time during our lifetime that a white police officer has been convicted of killing an African-American in Chicago. Black people, no doubt, find some solace in breaking through a barrier that once seemed impenetrable.

But it is not enough.

The line of demarcation between the police and African-American communities was drawn before most of us were born. And it has solidified through each generation.

Some of our communities have been damaged too deeply to mend so easily. It will take much more than vindication for a single police misdeed to repair years of injustice.

The 17-year-old’s murder is about much more than the death of one teenager. It is about a law enforcement system that historically targeted minorities, particularly African-American males, as though they were every officer’s worst enemy.

It is about our acceptance of a Police Department that federal investigators found is flawed to the core. And it is about our city’s willingness to close its eyes and cover its ears every time its citizens tried to warn that things were afoul.

It is about the scores of husbands, sons, brothers and uncles who have been racially profiled for generations and further victimized by a code of silence that shielded unscrupulous police officers from punishment.

Yes, the hearts of African-Americans are a little less burdened now that Van Dyke is being held accountable for shooting McDonald 16 times. But many blacks still harbor pain over the death of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, one of many victims who will never see justice.

In the wake of Van Dyke’s conviction, we ask: Will more accountability on the part of law enforcement lead toward a better relationship between the police and the communities they are charged with protecting?

Produced by Morgan Givens. Text by Gabrielle Healy.


LaDoris Cordell, Retired judge of the Superior Court of California; former Independent Police Auditor for the city of San Jose, California; @judgecordell

Shannon Spalding, Chicago Police Officer; whistleblower; @spaldingshan

Patrick Smith, Criminal justice reporter, WBEZ; @pksmid

Neill Franklin, Executive director, Law Enforcement Against Partnership (LEAP); retired major, Maryland State Police Department; @neillfranklin

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