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At last, a measure of justice for Laquan

CHICAGO, October 5, 2018—Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey released the following statement today in response to the verdict in the murder trial of Jason Van Dyke.

“Laquan McDonald was our student. He could have been a senior in a Chicago public high school when he was gunned down nearly four years ago to the day in one of the most shocking instances of brutality in the history of our city.

“Our members taught him, and he was a child of the communities in which they live. He was raised on streets covered in the blood of the generations before him who've been bludgeoned by economic, social and racial injustice. He deserved justice, and today’s verdict shows that the jury recognized his humanity and the tragedy that befell him.

“Our city, however, is still suffering, and reeling from the tenure of a mayor who systematically closed schools, used public dollars to pay police settlements and ultimately covered up Laquan’s murder for political and capital interests. Emanuel spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees to block the release of the dashboard camera video of Laquan’s murder until a judge ruled in November of 2015—nearly 400 days after the shooting and after he won re-election—that the mayor’s actions violated the Illinois open records laws and ordered that the video be released to the public.

“We must build on this opportunity to come to grips with Rahm’s tale of two cities—one city that supports the elites and the politicians they bankroll, and another city that failed Laquan, just as it fails hundreds of thousands of Black and Brown students and their families every day. Laquan deserved first-rate early childhood programming. He deserved the opportunity to attend schools with rigorous wraparound services and supports. Instead, Rahm and his allies support an apartheid-like school district run by a handpicked Board of Education that has long neglected poor and working class Black and Brown children, and as evident in recent years, has systematically driven students and their families from the city. And this failure extends to every arena of life in Chicago, from who gets policed, to who receives mental health care, to who collects public dollars for affordable housing.

“With Rahm gone, the people of this city have the opportunity to write a new narrative and build a new Chicago that is safe for minority and working class families. We need accountability and transparency through truly representative, democratically elected bodies. We need to value the lives of all Black and Brown people in the memory of those who were ruthlessly taken from us, like Laquan, Harith Augustus, Rekia Boyd, Dakota Bright, Flint Farmer, Bettie Jones, Quintonio LeGrier and Freddie Wilson. Remember these names, and remember that we need one city, with equity and dignity for everyone.

“Chicago must take this opportunity to heal from Rahm’s legacy of trauma and finally become a city that is built around equality and justice for all."

Chicago Teachers Union