CHICAGO » A relative of Laquan McDonald on Friday decried the repeated showing of the dashboard camera footage that captured the black teen being shot 16 times by a white Chicago police officer.
Flanked by dozens of family members and supporters inside his West Side church, McDonald’s great-uncle, the Rev. Marvin Hunter, urged the news media to divert its attention from the video and focus more on how the culture of the Police Department needs to change.
“How would you feel if every day, 24 hours a day, you saw your son die?” Hunter said at the Grace Memorial Baptist Church, where McDonald’s funeral service took place after the October 2014 shooting. “He walking and then he die. He walking and then he die.”
Hunter called on President Barack Obama to send a representative to Chicago for a “summit” to address gun violence, urban poverty and police brutality.
“We want a change to come to the city of Chicago,” he said at the packed news conference.
The release of the disturbing video on orders of a Cook County judge has led to a torrent of protest and criticism over how Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Police Department handled the investigation into the fatal shooting of the 17-year-old. After the video’s release and days of protests, Emanuel fired police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and the head of the city’s police oversight agency resigned just before the U.S. Justice Department announced a wide-ranging civil rights probe of the Police Department.
Hundreds of protesters have repeatedly taken to downtown streets, calling for the resignations of Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who has come under intense criticism for taking more than a year to charge Officer Jason Van Dyke with first-degree murder in McDonald’s death.
On Friday, the latest protest included many religious leaders. Following the biblical example of the Israelites marching around Jericho seven times to bring it down, they walked around City Hall seven times Friday at noon.
Shouting “16 shots and a cover-up,” they called for a federal investigation into the mayor’s office, the Independent Police Review Authority, the state attorney’s office and the Police Department.
“All the madness must stop,” they chanted.
After each time around City Hall, a different pastor would pray and the group would count to 16 in a reference to the number of times McDonald was shot.
Some protesters held up signs that called for release of all videos of officer-involved shootings.
At the West Side news conference, Hunter was asked if Emanuel should resign. Hunter said Alvarez should step down before the mayor does.
“Anita Alvarez has forfeited the moral high ground, and she’s lost the trust of the people of the county of Cook and the city of Chicago,” Hunter said. “And so the right thing for her to do is resign.”
Hunter thanked the protesters for all their support of McDonald and his family.
“Laquan was the kind of kid when he saw you, he greeted you with a hug,” he said. “He tried make you laugh. He was a jokester. That’s who he was.
“I just wish the world would know that dreads don’t mean dreadful,” he said.
©2015 Chicago Tribune