It is difficult to feel any real satisfaction at a murder being called a murder. For the communities that we represent it was never a question whether or not Jason Van Dyke murdered Laquan McDonald. The only question was whether or not our court system is capable of holding a white Chicago police officer accountable for killing a young Black man. Today, as is far too often the case, our court system fell short, convicting Jason Van Dyke of 2nd-degree murder instead of 1st-degree murder.
The fact that there was a verdict at all was made possible by the dedication and courage of young people who are part of the Movement for Black Lives who continue to demand justice for Laquan and all victims of police violence. We still have so far to go before real justice is realized. We know that no verdict handed down by jury or judge will end police violence, stamp out white supremacy, or improve the lived realities in our neighborhoods. A guilty verdict can not erase the fact that Chicago failed Laquan McDonald and continues to fail residents across the city, especially in Black and Brown neighborhoods. We must do better.
We can and should honor Laquan by throwing out the old failed policies that are destroying the lives of our young people. Chicago must make a massive reinvestment in our neighborhoods and prioritize the needs of communities over the wants of luxury developers and well connected political donors. We must listen to the voices of Black youth saying no to a new cop academy. Instead of awarding the police department that produced officers like Jon Burge and Jason Van Dyke with a brand new training compound, complete with raid equipment and new shooting range, we should invest those resources in mental health facilities, supportive school-based services like counselors and nurses, affordable housing and a real jobs program.
Together we can create a city where a young man like Laquan can get the education, job, housing, and healthcare that he needs to live a good life.