THE LOOP — Activists carried a symbolic casket for Laquan McDonald around City Hall while calling for President Barack Obama to intercede with the police department on Saturday.
Tio Hardiman, an anti-violence activist, organized the march to "bring more attention to the fact that Laquan McDonald's blood is spilling all over City Hall." McDonald was 17 years old when he was shot 16 times and killed by a police officer in October 2014. The officer, who police initially said was acting in self defense, now faces murder charges. During Saturday's march activists decried police brutality and wondered aloud: Who will be the next Laquan McDonald?
"We have to unify every day of the week and do everything in our power to make sure this does not happen again," Hardiman said. "Because I'm here to tell you: It's gonna happen again."
McDonald was "treated like a dog" by police, activists said, adding that it was a common experience for black men in the United States.
"... All over the county, this is all over everywhere: Black and brown people are getting killed constantly," one man said.
A man lays his hand on a symbolic casket for Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old who was shot by a police officer 16 times. The officer now faces murder charges. [DNAinfo/Kelly Bauer]
The activists also called on people of color to "unify" to prevent other forms of violence. During a moment of silence, they recognized Tyshawn Lee, a 9-year-old boy who police say was executed as an innocent victim of gang war. Police have charged one man in connection to Lee's death, have another in custody and are looking for a third.
Hardiman called for 20,000 people to organize so they can approach gang members and encourage them to put down their guns "for the people."
"... We keep expecting the system to solve our problems. That's not gonna happen," Hardiman said. "We have to solve our own problems."
Solving those problems will come with a number of steps, Hardiman said, but activists specifically called for Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to be fired and for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to be kicked out of office.
"It appalls me that human behavior has sunk to that level, where [Chicago's] administration ... doesn't respect human life. I'm angry about that. I'm angry and I'm sad," said a white man who attended the march. He called upon white Chicagoans to support people of color and said he was "sick" of bigotry.
Other activists called for President Barack Obama to intercede with Chicago Police, saying the Cook County Sheriff's Office should take over police while Chicago's officers and department are investigated.
Hardiman added that violence against black men needs to be the object of more attention, saying the nation would care more if white men were being killed by police as frequently as black men are.
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