Activists call for CTA shutdown if Jason Van Dyke isn't charged with federal civil rights violations

Jason Van Dyke was convicted in the 2014 fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald

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Sunday, January 16, 2022
Activists call for civil rights charges against Jason Van Dyke
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Activists call for federal civil rights charges against ex-Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke in the murder of Laquan McDonald.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A coalition of community activists and faith leaders are calling for the Chicago Transit Authority to shut down in protest if Jason Van Dyke isn't charged with federal civil rights violations for the 2014 slaying of a Black Chicago teen.

The former Chicago police officer was convicted in October 2018 for killing Laquan McDonald and is scheduled for release early next month.

In 2014, Van Dyke shot the Black teen 16 times. Video of the shooting from a police dashboard camera, released more than a year later, was a key piece of evidence in the trial and inflamed public reaction across the country. Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery, one count for each shot that hit McDonald.

"We want Local 241 and Local 308 -- the trains and the buses -- we want them to stand with us. We want them to stand in solidarity with us," said community activist William Calloway.

Calloway, who help make the dashcam video of the shooting public, said it's unclear if the transit unions will participate in the 16-day shut-off for 16 shots.

VIDEO: Dash-cam video of police shooting of Laquan McDonald

The ask comes after it was announced Friday that the now 43-year-old Van Dyke is scheduled to be released on February 3, after serving just under three and a half years.

He was sentenced to 81 months in prison for the 2014 shooting of the teen, but will be serving about half his sentence after receiving credit for good behavior.

"That's not a slap in our face, that's a spit in our face," said Camiella Williams with Good Kids Mad City.

It's likely Van Dyke will be paroled to the Chicago area after being housed in prison out of state.

"I can't speak for Jason, but I know what kind of person he is, and I think he just wants to live his life," said Jennifer Blagg, Van Dyke's attorney.

RELATED: Jason Van Dyke trial, Laquan McDonald shooting timeline

The proposed boycott comes on the eve of the holiday marking the birth of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"We know the power of boycotts. We know the power of sit-ins. We know the power of marching," said Bishop Tavis Grant with the Rainbow Push Coalition.

Supporters of the boycott compare the Van Dyke case to that of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who was federally indicted just weeks after being convicted at the state level of murdering George Floyd.

RELATED: Derek Chauvin verdict for George Floyd death draws comparisons to Jason Van Dyke, Laquan McDonald

A prior civil rights investigation was launched following McDonald's death, but nothing came from it.

Now, local activists want politicians of color to help them pressure the U.S. Attorney of the Northern Illinois District to indict Van Dyke.

"When all of these people ran for office, they ran on the back of Laquan McDonald," Dr. Lashawna Littrice, with Make Noise For Change, said.

Messages left for the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, and Local Transit Unions 241 and 308 were not returned.

It's still unclear how much actual support for this type of boycott there is. Regardless, organizers plan on moving forward with their action very soon.