Updated 8:08 p.m.
Reaction to the historic murder conviction of Jason Van Dyke again exposed the huge chasm between Chicago’s police officers and the communities they are charged with serving and protecting.
While many people across the city echoed the jurors who found Van Dyke guilty on Friday, it was hard to find any of them in Beverly, a far Southwest Side neighborhood that many cops call home.
The mood after the verdict was somber in the bars along Western Avenue, in stark contrast to the protests and chants of “16 shots and a cover-up!” in other parts of town where people long have demanded justice for the 2014 police police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Outside of one bar in Beverly, a retired ironworker with three Chicago cops in his immediate family said he thought Van Dyke should receive a medal for marksmanship.
“Because he got him all 16 times,” said the ironworker, who declined to give his name to a WBEZ reporter.
A group of retired officers who meet every Friday to smoke cigars and talk at Cork & Kerry, an Irish pub in Beverly, also kept their thoughts on the verdict to themselves.
One of the retired officers did want to talk, though, about his grandson — who asked him Thursday night if he should change his license-plate holder because it reads, “Chicago Police Department.”
“He was afraid of the demonstrators,” the retired cop said with a flash in his eye. He did not want to give his name.
The elected leaders of the Chicago officers’ union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, were more than happy to criticize the verdict against Van Dyke as an injustice.
“I don’t believe all the evidence was presented,” said FOP leader Kevin Graham.
Graham said he talked to dozens of cops on Friday. “They all believed he should not be convicted,” he said.
Before the trial resumed each day, Graham marched into the courthouse a few steps ahead of Van Dyke, who wore a bulletproof vest.
On Friday, Graham said there will be an appeal of the verdict and regretted that Van Dyke’s case could not be moved out of Cook County, to another venue.
And Graham also blamed politicians for the outcome of the trial, saying they had “used one case to really kick around the Chicago Police Department.”
Miles Bryan is a reporter for WBEZ. You can follow him at @miles__bryan.