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'Before You Watch This, I Want You to Know You Are Loved'

The dashcam video of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan Mcdonald 16 times made its way quickly across the Internet on Tuesday.

But it wasn't the only video being widely shared.

As protesters gathered in downtown Chicago chanting “16 shots, 16 shots,” and gave speeches about the need to combat racism, social media lit up with angry tweets and outraged Facebook posts. 

Organizers in Chicago deliberately added another message: Black people, we love you.

While the city tensely awaited the dashcam video, the Black Youth Project 100 invited people to upload their own videos with the hashtag #BeforeYouWatch.

“This is a love letter to all black people. Very soon a video of the execution of 17-year old Laquan Mcdonald will be spread across the Internet. I just want to let you know we love you,” said Charlene Carruthers in one video.

“Before you watch this I want you to know you are loved. And no matter what is on this video your life matters, “ said Malcolm London in another.

Later that night, London was arrested at a protest. All charges were dropped on Wednesday.

As the Associated Press reported:

Malcolm London, 22, was among five people who were arrested on charges that included weapons possession and resisting arrest.

He was charged with hitting an officer. On Wednesday, Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas dismissed the charge said the state's attorney's office recommended that the charge be dropped. and told London he was free to go.

London, wearing a T-shirt with the phrase "Unapologetically black" on it, walked outside the courthouse to loud cheers.

A crowd of supporters chanted, "We're going to be all right" and "Set our people free."

Prosecutors did not explain why their office recommended dropping the charge.

As his fellow activists waited outside the courthouse for London, they chanted,  "I love you like you were me." 

Organizers said stereotypes about black people being 'reckless' and not caring about their own communities, had led the media to expect violent riots.

To counter that narrative, an organizer for the Black Youth Project stood up on the courthouse steps and invited the crowd to continue uploading videos.

“We have to be subversive of the media,” she said. “We have to create our own media that generates positive messages.”

Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her @shannon_h

 

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