2 years after Laquan McDonald shooting, legislation proposed to prevent cover-ups

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Few knew the name "Laquan McDonald" when he was shot and killed, but two years later his memory was burned on the hearts of hundreds. (WLS)

Few knew the name "Laquan McDonald" when he was shot and killed, but two years later on the doorstep of police headquarters his memory was burned on the hearts of hundreds who gathered.

"That could have been your son! That could have been your brother! It might have been your son! It might have been your son! It might have been your brother!" said Pastor Kevin Jones, Kingdom Life Center.

McDonald, 17, died after being shot 16 times by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke on Oct. 20, 2014 during an encounter with police. The release of the dash cam video of that encounter, which the city fought long and hard, led to the firing of top cop Garry McCarthy, electoral defeat for State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, murder charges against Van Dyke and a federal investigation of the Chicago Police Department.

Thursday, demonstrators called for new legislation would hold elected officials accountable for cover-ups and allow voters to recall the mayor, aldermen or state's attorney in cases like McDonald murder.

"We are the community, and we own the politicians. We own the police," said Che "Rhymefest" Smith, rapper.

The legislation, called the "Laquan Law," was introduced by State Rep. Ken Dunkin.

"We want to take corrective measures to simply put in place procedures that offer a recall for aldermen for the mayor and for the states attorney's office because they were direct co-conspirators in covering up this horrific mess that we're all ashamed of," said Dunkin.

"We demand more accountability on the elected officials that we feel co-conspired to cover up the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald," said activist William Colloway.

The night ended with a show of unity, a release of balloons commemorating those not killed by police.

"We can't just hold law enforcement accountable if we don't hold the community accountable," Calloway said.

Dunkin was defeated in a primary election and will no longer hold office next year, but he said this is good legislation and there are others who will support it.

The earliest a vote could come through on the proposed "Laquan law" is Nov. 15. Organizers said if the vote does not happen, they will organize a protest on Michigan Avenue on Black Friday, as they did last year. So far, Dunkin is the only sponsor of the bill.

"If this is something that my community wants to do I would stand with my community and do that," said Alderman David Moore of the 17th Ward.

McDonald's family released a statement for the anniversary of his death, calling it a brutal and senseless act of violence.

"Time has not dulled the pain of this tragic loss to his mother, his sister and the rest of his extended family. We thank all of the people who have honored Laquan's memory and continue to advocate for police reform. We look forward to the day when Jason Van Dyke will be held responsible for Laquan's senseless murder and everyone involved in trying to cover up this criminal act is held accountable. Only then will justice be truly served," said the statement.

Many agree that there have been changes; other police videos have been released and officers are all getting cameras, but protesters forced those changes.

Video of the shooting was released last November, sparking days of mass protest and call for reform.

The United States Department of Justice launched an investigation into the Chicago Police Department in early December following the video's release. Results of a federal civil rights investigation of police department practices and the murder trial of Van Dyke have yet to be released.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement on Thursday:

"Two years ago Laquan McDonald lost his life tragically and unnecessarily. His death was a wake-up call for our city on an issue that has challenged the city for decades, and brought a renewed commitment to a public conversation about policing and community relations. But more than just breaking from the past, we will continue working together across the city to build a brighter future by restoring trust between residents and our officers, and implementing the reforms necessary to prevent this from happening again."
Related Topics:
laquan mcdonaldjason van dykechicago police departmentrahm emanueldepartment of justicelegislationChicago - BronzevilleChicago - Englewood
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