The Latest: Reaction To The Jason Van Dyke Verdict | WBEZ
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The Latest: Reaction To The Jason Van Dyke Verdict

Updated 4:53 p.m. 

Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm Friday in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014. The shooting gained national attention more than a year later when a judge forced city officials to release a police daschcam video of the white officer shooting the black teenager.

It's the first time in decades that a Chicago police officer has been convicted of murder for an on-duty death. He faces six to 30 years on each of the 16 counts of aggravated battery and will be held without bail until he is sentenced. The judge in the case will sentence Van Dyke at a later date.

Here is the latest responses to the verdict.

From reporters on the scene:

From public officials and figures:

Statement From Mayor Rahm Emanuel And CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson

“For the past several weeks, a jury heard testimony, weighed evidence and considered the facts of the Van Dyke case. Today, the jury reached its verdict. As we absorb their decision, let us continue to hear each other and partner with each other – as public servants, police and members of the public – and let us ensure our collective mission is what endures for generations to come. We come from many neighborhoods, many walks of life and many places throughout the world. But for all of us, this is our home. This is the city we love. We have heard that message countless times in recent days and weeks in church basements, in community meetings and from residents in our neighborhoods. And while the jury has heard the case and reached their conclusion, our collective work is not done. The effort to drive lasting reform and rebuild bonds of trust between residents and police must carry on with vigor.”

Statement From Garry McCarthy, Former CPD Supt. And Current Mayoral Candidate

“Today’s verdict brings to a close one of the darkest chapters in Chicago’s history. But this verdict also reminds us all of the need to come together and rise above this tragic event. I’m appealing to every person in Chicago to wisely and compassionately reflect on the death of Laquan McDonald and htis guilty verdict of Jason Van Dyke. Together, they offer each of us the opportunity to decide ourselves to making Chicago a better city … not a bitter city. It is time for us to recognize that we have more in common in conflict. It is time for all of us to come together around what unites us … and to stop paying so much attention to the things that divide us.”

Statement from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who is running for mayor

"While nothing can make up for the senseless loss of young life, I am grateful that there is some justice for LaQuan McDonald. Like many, I saw the video and it was devastating. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

"This is an important indictment not only of the actions of an individual but of the code of silence within the police department. We cannot have safe communities if we do not have police force accountable to all communities."

Statement from Kwame Raoul, Democratic candidate for Attorney General

“Justice was done today, as a jury of his peers held Jason Van Dyke accountable for the murder of Laquan McDonald. Our criminal justice system has done its job, but the work of healing and reform is just beginning. While this verdict was about one incident within one city's police department, it has shed light throughout the state and throughout the country on the need to focus on law enforcement reform. The work towards that end does not stop with this verdict, nor with the consent decree that this case brought about. I appeal to communities throughout the city and state to come together towards improved safety, accountability and mutual respect.”

Statement from Illinois Senate President John Cullerton

“Justice is the reason we have the rule of law. This conviction brings justice for the killing of Laquan McDonald. It is my hope that it begins to restore some semblance of faith in our systems and belief that we all have the right to equal treatment and protection under the law.”

Statement From Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge President Chris Southwood

"This is a day I never thought I'd see in America, where 12 ordinary citizens were duped into saving the asses of self-serving politicians at the expense of a dedicated public servant. This sham trial and shameful verdict is a message to every law enforcement officer in America that it's not the perpetrator in front of you that you need to worry about, it's the political operatives stabbing you in the back. What cop would still want to be proactive fighting crime after this disgusting charade, and are law abiding citizens ready to pay the price?"

From faith leaders:

Statement from Rev. Michael Pfleger

“Today we had justice for Laquan McDonald, and a score for justice in Chicago, we thank God for the victory! We are praying for the family, for the conscious of the jury, and for all those that marched, protested, and fought for this victory. Let us celebrate today. We need a win, because tomorrow the fight continues.

"We must bring reform to the police department and to the justice system. Tomorrow we continue to fight to bring equality, equity, and justice to the south and west sides of Chicago. We also put on notice all elected officials that our vote cannot be bought, but must be earned by proposing and delivering concrete ideas, policies, and actions to equal the playing field in Chicago and ending the tale of two cities.”

Statement from Black Caucus Chair Ald. Roderick Sawyer 

“The death of Laquan McDonald was a wrenching tragedy that has rocked our city to its core. We pray for peace for the McDonald family, and long remained hopeful that they would find true justice through this process. But the truth is, no matter how this verdict came down, the McDonald family lost a son that they can never get back.

“Still, the black community today can find some relief. It appears Jason Van Dyke will be held accountable for his violence. 

“Now, we must all recommit ourselves to seeking transformational change to the way policing is done in our city. We must focus now more than ever on demanding the police accountability mechanisms that experts from the Police Accountability Task Force and the Obama Justice Department beseeched the Emanuel administration to implement. And we must continue to reckon with the fact laid bare to us all over and over again since the day the news of Laquan McDonald’s death first broke--that Chicago continues to be plagued by deep inequities and systemic racism. Until we address that underlying reality, the conditions that led to Laquan McDonald’s death will not change.” 

Statement by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.

"Laquan McDonald was taken from his family and sent to his grave nearly four years ago. Today, his killer, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, was taken from his family and should spend years to come in a prison cell.

"The evidence was overwhelming, and the jury rendered a measure of justice. But Van Dyke should not suffer this alone. Those who covered up the tapes for 400 days should take some responsibility. Those police officers who lied on the scene should be punished. The role of the Fraternal Order of Police should be investigated.

"Yet this is no time to celebrate or to rebel. There were police killings before Laquan’s murder and there have been police killings since. We must challenge the system to end this egregious behavior toward young black people.

"Going forward, the name and fate of Jason Van Dyke should be a deterrent for police officers in Chicago and across the country."

Chicago Rev. Marshall Hatch

“Oddly enough, Jason Van Dyke has a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old. That 17-year-old is the same age that Laquan McDonald was when [Van Dyke] took his life. Our prayers are with both those families and with our city. This represents an opportunity to move forward. We think that it’s a just decision. It’s a fair decision. It’s a decision that points to the fact that Chicago - the people of Chicago - decree that this is a 21st Century city and that we no longer want to be policed by a 1960s police force."

Chicago Rev. Cy Fields 

“Justice won over the tale of two cities today. We must always remember that justice and righteousness is what really matters. It won over the cover-up. Justice won over the blue code of silence. Today was a day of justice.”

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