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In Chicago, the Trial of a White Policeman, Murderer of a Young Black American

Translated Thursday 6 September 2018, by Henry Crapo

Jason Van Dyke is on trial today (Mercredi 5 September) for the murder in first degree of
Laquan McDonald, who was 17 years old.

It was an evening in October 2014, the 20th, in Chicago. Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black teenager, walks in the middle of the road. He’s holding an object in his hand. Police cars are coming. The young man, without any aggressive action, seems to ignore them and moves towards the side of the road. At that moment, Constable Jason Van Dyke, who had already pulled out his weapon, fires. Not once, not twice. Laquan is on the ground and he is literally riddled with bullets. Sixteen in all. The autopsy report states that the teenager was hit in the head, neck, chest, hand, thigh and even in the back.

The case could have practically ended there. A miscellaneous fact so common that it would become derisory. Didn’t the police explain that the object Laquan was holding was a knife? Very quickly, everything was organized in an attempt to deflate the emotion that had captured the popular, black neighbourhoods of Illinois’ big city. An "independent" Police Review Authority, responsible for examining the possible criminal behaviour of the agents, laundered Van Dyke, considering that his conduct that evening was not to be blamed. Chicago City Hall, headed by Rahm Emanuel, the White House’s first chief of staff under President Barack Obama, is offering the McDonald family $5 million. As if you could hide a kid’s body under a carpet of greenbacks!

The number of murders of blacks by police officers is increasing

The battle for justice for Laquan McDonald began then. It took more than a year for a judge to charge Jason Van Dyke with first degree murder, in November 2015. This is the first time a white police officer who shot a black man has been charged with such a crime. On the same day, a video shot by the dashcam (camera fixed on the dashboard) of one of the police cars was made public by a judge, triggering a series of angry demonstrations. It is because, in this period - which lasts - the number of murders of blacks by police officers has increased, as in Ferguson or Baltimore. And in Chicago, we also remember that in 1969 Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, two Black Panther activists were shot like dogs.

Today, almost three years after his indictment, Van Dyke’s trial will finally begin. The man is known to the... police department. And not only because he has been a member of this organisation for fourteen years at the time of the events. Nearly 20 complaints of racist insults and excessive use of force had already been filed against him. This did not prevent him, a few days ago, from answering questions from the press - which is illegal - to explain complacently that he is "not racist" and to point out "external pressures" and "politics".

Chicago will resonate this September 5th with this demand for justice. Thousands of demonstrators are expected, including the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (Caarpr), Black Lives Matter and personalities such as Angela Davis, who wanted to make her voice heard "to stop police violence". Everyone fears that the trial will not be completed. For Frank Chapman, from Caarpr and one of the organizers of this day of mobilization, "as long as the police are allowed to kill blacks and Latinos at will and to treat us worse than criminals, public safety is in danger and is largely non-existent." [1]

[1Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator. The final text differs from DeepL’s automatic translation only in a very few minor edits.

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