News

Chicago shooting sparks unrest

Students call for empathy and conversation

Protesters took to the streets of Chicago in response to the trial of Officer Jason Van Dyke of the Chicago Police Department for the shooting of Laquan McDonald on Nov. 28.

McDonald, an African-American youth, was shot 16 times by Jason Van Dyke after being cornered by officers.

Four hundred days after the shooting, a dashcam video was released by the city of Chicago due to a ruling by Cook County Judge, Franklin Valderrama.

The soundless footage shows McDonald jogging, then walking briskly down the street as squad cars surround him.

McDonald then pulls something from his pocket (police reports say it was a knife), and continues to walk down the road. After a moment, McDonald spins as Van Dyke opens fire, then hits the ground.

The footage of the shooting has been the source of controversy for the past year. The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and other city officials initially refused to release the video to the public, saying they were unable to on grounds of federal and state investigations being made into the shooting.

It was only after Valderrama’s ruling that journalists were sent a link to a third party website. Journalists were given a one-hour window to download the video, according to the Atlantic.

Though the site crashed almost immediately, DNAinfo.com Chicago uploaded the video in its entirety to YouTube.

Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder by Cook County prosecutors.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Van Dyke is the first officer to face this charge in the last
35 years.

Response on the John Brown University campus has been relatively low. Salina Adolph, senior family and human services major, expressed frustration at the lack of response.

“I was sad, but I wasn’t shocked. I was sad because I knew that thevideo still wouldn’t matter to many people.” Adolph said.

Adolph said that the response on campus needs to improve, particularly on the part of majority students.

“I think that majority students need to move past the privilege-processing phase into the ally phase. They need to engage in relationships with students of color and listen intently.”

Adolph is not the only one to take note of this tragedy. Rebecca Ramirez, junior graphic design major, also expressed frustration at the student body’s lack of response on issues of race.

“The attitude on campus towards race might seem like it’s being addressed—and getting
better—but it’s mainly just stagnant,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez ended with an exhortation; “I think if we have more opportunities for students and faculty to talk about their honest thoughts and opinions in a safe space, then the general attitude towards race within JBU will become much more open and gracious.”

Van Dyke will face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of first degree murder. At this time, his bond is set at $1.5 million.