Yesterday afternoon, Cook County Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson handed down a verdict of not guilty in the case of three Chicago police officers accused of an attempted cover-up in the murder of seventeen year old Laquan McDonald. Despite overwhelming evidence that the officers filed fraudulent reports in order to forge justification for officer Van Dyke’s brutal killing of a teenager, the judge, in her hour-long ruling, deflected accountability away from law enforcement and proceeded to falsely malign the victim, Laquan McDonald, as a violent aggressor whose actions warranted execution by sixteen shots. Yesterday’s miscarriage of justice attests to the power and reach of the officer code of silence, which stretches its grasp beyond the police department, fixing its hold over city hall, the mayor’s office and the county courthouse.
In the days that followed the murder of Laquan McDonald, officer Thomas Gaffney, former officer Joseph Walsh, and former detective David March filed matching reports corroborating Van Dyke’s claim that on the night of the shooting, McDonald had presented an imminent threat, ignoring verbal commands and wielding a knife. What these cops did not anticipate, was that in the following year the Chicago Police Department, under mounting pressure from grassroots community activists, would be forced to release dashcam footage of the police killing. This video evidence irrefutably contradicted the officers' accounts. Over the course of the trial, prosecutors presented compelling testimony by fellow cops, supported by departmental video, police files and emails to conclusively demonstrate that the accused officers in fact submitted falsified reports in order to shield Van Dyke from accountability.
In the face of yesterday's failure of justice, CRGE remains committed to its demand for restitution for Laquan McDonald and for every life touched by police violence. Join us as we carry this fight for justice forward.
Call upon Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson (312-745-6100) to fire disgraced officer Thomas Gaffney.
Demand that Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans (312-603-6000) call upon circuit court judges to vote against the reappointment of Associate Judge Domenica Stephenson.
Bring #Justice4Laquan to the ballot box on February 26th by voting to unseat aldermen who refuse to support a democratically elected representative police board and a just police contract that ends the code of silence.
In the coming weeks, CRGE will launch a city wide voter mobilization campaign to elect municipal candidates that represent our values, reflect our communities and champion Black safety and liberation. Please contact us for more information about our electoral campaign and to learn how you can get involved in our work.
This afternoon Jason Van Dyke was found guilty in the murder of Laquan McDonald. Nearly three years after the city released dashcam footage of the horrific killing of a seventeen year old boy at the hands of an enraged and brutal cop, communities most impacted by police violence are now witnessing a rare glimpse at justice.
Dear Comrades and Allies,
This afternoon Jason Van Dyke was found guilty in the murder of Laquan McDonald. Nearly three years after the city released dashcam footage of the horrific killing of a seventeen year old boy at the hands of an enraged and brutal cop, communities most impacted by police violence are now witnessing a rare glimpse at justice. In the context of a racially prejudiced law enforcement system, which has for decades allowed officers to brutalize, reign terror and commit murder against black and brown bodies with impunity, this verdict represents an unprecedented step towards police accountability.
Today’s hard-earned victory was delivered not by the merits of local law enforcement and court systems, but rather in spite of their profound structural failures. This glimmer of justice was won by the courage and resolve of community members who gathered on Michigan Avenue, at city hall and at the court building demanding restitution for Laquan McDonald and for every life touched by police violence. Despite obstruction on the part of the Mayor, City Council and the State’s Attorney, the power of the people prevailed in forcing the state to hold itself accountable to communities of color.
Justice for Laquan begins today and culminates only when we dismantle the structural racism, brutality and corruption endemic to Chicago’s law enforcement system. Justice for Laquan means representative, democratically-elected community control over the police and an end to the officer code of silence. Justice for Laquan means a systematic divestment of mass policing and surveillance of Black residents and a reinvestment in schools, jobs, childcare and programs that restore equity. Justice for Laquan means universal safety and liberation for Black Chicagoans.
WCRJ is committed to continuing the fight to end racialized police violence. Please contact us for more information on how you can get involved in our work.
The Workers Center for Racial Justice
Just months after passing a $1.2 trillion tax plan, which secured generous breaks for America’s wealthiest individuals and corporations, Congress is now taking swift action to implement harsh austerity measures that would deny basic food access to the nation’s most under-resourced households.
Just months after passing a $1.2 trillion tax plan, which secured generous breaks for America’s wealthiest individuals and corporations, Congress is now taking swift action to implement harsh austerity measures that would deny basic food access to the nation’s most under-resourced households.Proposing a set of radical new restrictions on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), House Republicans have taken direct aim at low income families, communities facing elevated rates of unemployment and individuals impacted by incarceration. This latest assault on low income households is a familiar right-wing maneuver which aims to divert public dollars away from critical human services as a means to finance tax schemes that fund the hyper-rich. It’s time to send a clear message that communities will not stand by as the government proceeds to take food off our tables in order to line the pockets of the rich.
Before adjourning for the summer recess, House Republicans voted unanimously to adopt a series of amendments to the US Farm Bill which would obliterate the nation’s already threadbare food assistance program. The House version of the bill would drastically limit SNAP eligibility for low income families and issue lifetime service bans for a significant number of formerly incarcerated community members, as well as for their families. Despite the overly restrictive work requirements currently imposed on SNAP recipients, the bill also proposes new mandates that would disqualify vulnerable applicants who are unable to work due to disability, lack of affordable childcare or an absence of local job opportunities. As a direct result, an additional two million people facing food scarcity in the U.S would go hungry.
In recent years, conservative interest groups have mounted a measured assault against the nation's low income community service programs.Funded by billionaire power brokers, such lobbying initiatives advocate for disinvestment of programs that benefit communities, while proposing ever deeper cuts to the corporate tax rate. In order to secure public approval for inhumane policies that harm low income families, lawmakers on the right have invoked the longstanding, racially coded myth of the undeserving welfare recipient, who is both criminally oriented and disinclined to work. Such rhetoric lies at the very root of Republicans’ latest attempt to ban formerly incarcerated SNAP recipients and impose overly stringent program work requirements.
Republicans' dog whistling claims that public assistance breeds criminality and unemployment are both dangerous and patently unfounded. Food insecurity represents one of the many challenges individuals face when returning from incarceration and research shows that access to SNAP benefits reduces rates of recidivism. In Illinois, 80% percent of SNAP households with children are headed by a working parent, and studies demonstrate that SNAP services boost employment and earnings rates among recipients. Chronic unemployment experienced by the vast minority of SNAP participants stems from external factors such as disability, disinvestment in area job markets and an absence of affordable childcare. SNAP work requirements would only serve to ensure that the most under resourced applicants go hungry.
Call your Senator and Representative today and demand that they oppose any measure in the Farm Bill that would impose new restrictions on SNAP access.