Black activists are calling for political action after a white former Chicago cop received a light sentence on Friday for gunning down Laquan McDonald in 2014.
“If you’re a Black Chicagoan, don’t protest. Don’t take to the streets. It’s time we take to the polls,” Chicago activist William Calloway said after the sentencing of ex-officer Jason Van Dyke, the Associated Press reported.
A jury found Van Dyke guilty in October 2018 of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for each bullet he fired into the Black teenager’s body. On Friday, a judge sentenced him to just six years and nine months behind bars. That means the former cop could be released from prison after serving a little more than three years of his sentence.
“We don’t agree with the judge’s ruling at all. We feel that what Jason Van Dyke did—shoot Laquan 16 times—he deserve to spend the rest of his life behind bars. That’s something that’s a consensus among the activist community, the Black community and most Chicagoans at large,” Calloway, who was instrumental in pressuring officials to release the police video of the shooting to the public, said at a press conference.
Many agreed with Calloway that “81 months in the Illinois Department of Corrections—that’s a slap in the face to us and a slap on the wrist to him.”
The activist seeks to help reform the city’s troubled criminal justice system from within. He’s competing for a seat on the Chicago City Council by running against a five-term incumbent.
Van Dyke’s sentence came on the heels of another bombshell. Two Chicago police officers and one detective were acquitted on Thursday of trying to cover up the shooting for Van Dyke, even though that was precisely what they did.
After that verdict, the civil rights organization Color of Change issued a call to political action.
“Today’s verdict is a reminder of all the work yet to be done to bring justice to our criminal justice system. We’ll cont. fighting, through our 100 Days of Justice campaign & other grassroots efforts, to hold these officials accountable,” Color of Change tweeted.
The organization’s 100 Days of Justice campaign focuses on electing reform-minded district attorney and holding them accountable after win office.