MLK breakfast 2019 boycotted; Chicago aldermen outraged by acquittal of 3 CPD officers in Laquan McDonald case

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The city-sponsored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast to commemorate the life of civil rights icon was under the spotlight in Chicago on Friday.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast to commemorate the life of civil rights icon was under the spotlight in Chicago on Friday.

This was the 33rd year of the city-sponsored gather that celebrates the life of the slain civil rights icon along with his legacy of service, which was articulated by keynote speaker Dr. Helene Gayle.

"But we all know, Dr. King was much more than a minister with a dream," she said. "He was a fierce social justice warrior."

"When you think about Dr. King's life, he died in Memphis talking about economic and social justice, knowing the two are woven together," said mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Amid prayers for peace, there was anger over Thursday's acquittal of three Chicago police officers accused of trying to cover up the shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Retired Chicago police officers David March and Joseph Walsh - as well as Thomas Gaffney, who is currently suspended without pay - were on trial for conspiracy, obstruction of justice and official misconduct charges.

Judge Domenica Stephenson ruled Thursday afternoon the state did not meet the burden of proof. She said that common wording in reports did not indicate conspiracy and said the state's witness was not credible.
WATCH: Judge announces ruling in trial of three CPD officers
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Three Chicago police officers accused of trying to cover up the deadly shooting of Laquan McDonald learned their fate Thursday.



The officers were found not guilty on all counts.

Many prominent community leaders did not show up to the event, including Bishop Larry Trotter, who was supposed to deliver the benediction. He joined the chorus of other pastors and community activists who called for a boycott of the breakfast.

Those who did attend, including members of Chicago's Aldermanic Black Caucus, used the time after the event to express their outrage and disappointment in the acquittal of three Chicago police officers accused of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The aldermen said justice was not done.

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Three Chicago police officers accused of trying to cover up the deadly shooting of Laquan McDonald learned their fate Thursday.



"As we're here at a celebration about how far we've come, we seem to have not come far at all. We're extremely disappointed in this type of verdict that goes on not just here, but throughout the country, where young black boys are getting shot in the streets and officers are walking way, celebrating," said Alderman Roderick Sawyer (6th Ward).

"To have a judge to come up with a verdict such as she has done. To say, 'OK, willy nilly, just kill any black person that you see and we will let you off.' We are enraged," said Alderman Carrie Austin (34th Ward).

Jahmal Cole founded "My Block, My Hood, My City," an organization that provides opportunities to youth in underprivileged communities. He was honored at the interfaith breakfast and commented on Stephenson's ruling's impact on the black community.

"If one community is struggling and can't play their part, the entire piece is going to suffer," he said.

I-TEAM: Trial of CPD officers seen as referendum on what's known as the "code of silence"
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The trial of these three CPD officers was seen as a referendum on what has become known as the "code of silence."



While the politicians said they want the judge responsible for Thursday's ruling kicked off the bench, they are called for a reform of the criminal justice system.
"Well, what we can do. We are currently in negotiations right now, about a new police contract. We need to change the rules as to how they conduct these investigations. They need to change the rules as to what they call the 'cooling off period,' which is the time they get together to create their story. Those are the changes that we can impact," said Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th Ward).

"The bottom line is, not only do we have to reform our police department, we also have to reform our criminal justice system," said Dr. Leon Finney, of the Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church.

Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago police officer who shot McDonald 16 times and was convicted last October of murdering the black teen, will be sentenced Friday.

WATCH LIVE NOW: Jason Van Dyke sentencing hearing

The aldermen said they did not want to comment on Van Dyke's sentencing, but do hope justice would be done.
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