Protests Erupt in Chicago After Mayor Apologizes for Laquan McDonald’s Death

Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Protesters demonstrate outside Chicago City Council chambers Dec. 9, 2015, as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel addresses a special session of the council. Many are calling for the mayor’s resignation amid allegations of extreme police misconduct and an administration coverup.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Hundreds of protesters took to Chicago's streets Wednesday, blocking traffic and reportedly attempting to storm business buildings while calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's resignation.

The protest came just hours after the mayor, during a special Chicago City Council meeting, publicly apologized for the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a police officer, Newsweek reports.


According to the Chicago Tribune, Emanuel said that Laquan's shooting "happened on my watch."

"If we're going to fix it, I want you to understand it's my responsibility with you," Emanuel told the full City Council, the Tribune reports. "But if we're also going to begin the healing process, the first step in that journey is my step, and I'm sorry."

In October 2014, several officers responded to a call of a man with a knife. Shortly after arriving on the scene, Police Officer Jason Van Dyke fired 16 times within seconds of exiting his vehicle. The incident was captured on dash-cam video, and protesters demanded that the footage be released. In an unprecedented move, the Chicago City Council approved a $5 million payout to Laquan's family before they had even filed a lawsuit. A judge ordered that the footage be released to the public in November 2015, a a little over a year after the incident occurred. Hours before the footage was released, it was announced that Officer Van Dyke would be charged with first-degree murder.

Since release of the footage, protesters have been demanding that Emanuel resign, saying that he was complicit in attempts to cover up the shooting. Emanuel and his office have denied such allegations.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was opening an investigation into the Chicago Police Department to review its practices in order to determine whether Laquan's shooting was an isolated incident or part of a systemic problem.


According to Newsweek, "Demonstrators chanted '16 shots and a coverup!' and 'Rahm, resign!' as they marched through the city's financial district on Wednesday."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who attended Emanuel's special City Council meeting, called the mayor's apology "an impassioned address on the extreme duress" of the city, the Tribune notes.


"The word must become flesh, and we'll know the value of it then," Jackson said of Emanuel's speech. "It must become a practice, and it must happen immediately. We now know police saw the killing of Laquan McDonald and filed a false report. They should be addressed immediately."

Jackson has asked that the DOJ investigation include Emanuel's office and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's office, as well as the CPD.  


"Who saw the tape when and delayed the tape for 13 months?" Jackson asked, the Tribune reports. "When subpoenas are issued to testify under oath, then we'll know who knew what when."

Read more at Newsweek and the Chicago Tribune.

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