As possible jurors for the murder trial of Chicago police Officer Shawl Tops Oversized Top Shawl Clothing Bohemian Top Knit Knit Top Loose Fashion Knit Wrap Wrap Crochet Summer Top Summer Women UwgnXP0qx walked into the courthouse Wednesday morning, roughly 100 protesters gathered nearby calling for the officer's conviction.
On the first day of the jury selection process for the high-profile case, protesters assembled on the lawn between California Avenue and California Boulevard, positioning themselves between the parking garage, where jurors park, and the Leighton Criminal Court Building. The crowd, diverse in age and race, loudly chanted “16 shots and a cover-up!” as drivers passing the demonstration slowed to gawk. Some protesters brought hand-drawn signs, including one woman whose sign read, “Who do I call when a criminal has a badge?”
Another protester, standing on the walkway leading to the courthouse, held a sign with Van Dyke's mug shot accompanied by the word “guilty” in bold capital lettering. A network of metal barricades wrapped around much of the designated protest area and the courthouse entrance. A small contingent of Chicago police officers and Cook County sheriff’s deputies kept watch on the perimeter of the protest.
For community activist William Calloway, 29, the demonstration was the first step toward making good on his pledge to lead people in protest outside the courthouse every day of the trial.
“We're out here defending justice and, for people who don't know, we want to raise people's consciousness about Laquan McDonald,” said Calloway, of South Shore.
“It's been close to four years since the shooting happened. It's been three years since (Van Dyke) has been charged. And we want justice. It's time for him to face the music about what he did.”
As the doors of the courthouse opened at 8:30 a.m., a small group of protesters peeled away and lined up to grab a seat to observe Wednesday's proceedings. Protesters representing the Revolutionary Communist Party also broke away from the main group and marched in a loop in front of the courthouse steps, causing some people to have to wait to enter. However, law enforcement hung back and there didn't appear to be any confrontations.
Black Black Shirt Shirt Tunic Sleeves Women Women Shirt Sleeve Tuni Long T Long tshirt Black SleevesTunic Long “We don't feel like we're influencing anybody,” Calloway said. “We're doing what we've been doing for the past several years, and that's demonstrating and demanding justice for Laquan McDonald. Nothing has changed. We never tried to intentionally say that we're going to influence jurors. And Van Dyke still has the right to opt out, waive a jury to do a bench trial. You can’t influence a judge.”
The gathering was a reunion of sorts for many notable names and faces who have been involved in protesting since the city released the video three years ago of Van Dyke fatally shooting the black teen. Among them were activist turned mayoral candidate Ja'Mal Green, Jedidiah Brown and several relatives of people who had been killed in police-involved encounters.
Also taking the stage to address protesters was Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th.
“If yesterday proves anything, it's that Laquan McDonald rests in power,” Ramirez-Rosa said, referring to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s announcement Tuesday not to run for a third term.
“Laquan McDonald should get justice and will get justice because of people like you,” Ramirez-Rosa continued. “But let’s be clear, this fight goes so far beyond one court case. It goes so far beyond one police officer. This fight is about changing the system. ... We know you can change the skin of the judge, you can change the look of the police officer, you can get a new mayor, but you can still have a racist system.”
Protesters are expecting to return to the courthouse Monday, when a pool of potential jurors are scheduled to reconvene.
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