Chicago teen killed by police Monday, community activists urge action

By Mary Cirincione

Seventeen-year-old teen Laquan McDonald was killed by a Chicago Police officer Monday after allegedly puncturing car tires on the city’s Southwest Side. Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, told the media Tuesday that the teen had refused repeated requests to drop his knife and gazed blankly at officers with “a 100-yard stare.”

Asserting that Chicago cops are every bit as brutal as those in Ferguson, Mo., activists gathered in Daley Plaza Wednesday to protest the use of excessive force by the arresting officers. About 150 teens and adults participated in the rally, a far cry from the thousands who marched the streets in Ferguson in the weeks following Michael Brown’s death. October 22 is the National Day of Action Against Police Brutality.

“We are here today to say that we are outraged at the atrocities that have been going on in Chicago and many other cities in our nation,” said Hannibal Saleem Ali, a youth advocate for Stop Mass Incarceration, the organization that led the rally. “Black and Latino youth are under attack and we’re saying that they have a target on their backs, their lives are under threat. This has to stop. They’re being killed by the police senselessly for no reason at all.”

Ali cited McDonald’s death as evidence that Chicago Police don’t opt for restraint when given the chance. “What happens to just tasering a guy? If there’s some problem with bringing him in, why not Taser him? But they didn’t do that.” The officers that responded to the call about McDonald did not have a Taser, Camden said.

Ali said he visited the crime scene following McDonald’s shooting and became so upset that he took something as a reminder: “I brought the crime scene tape with me here today to show we that can’t just accept what the gatekeepers and the media are telling us about these deaths. We have to look further into these situations.”

In light of Wednesday’s rally, the Chicago Police Department said it remains dedicated to fair policing strategies. “Over the past three years, CPD has led a return to community policing to build relationships between officers and residents, and we have instituted new training, mandatory for all officers, focused on how they are to interact with residents,” said spokesman Martin Maloney.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled McDonald’s death a homicide Tuesday after autopsy results showed the teen died of multiple gunshot wounds. Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the incident as it does with all police-involved shootings.