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Laquan McDonald Protesters Take 16 Laps Around City Hall

By  Ted Cox and Evan F.  Moore | December 4, 2015 1:27pm | Updated on December 4, 2015 4:53pm

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. leads a march around City Hall to protest the Laquan McDonald case. The march stepped off to chants of "no justice, no peace." [DNAinfo/Ted Cox]

CITY HALL — Local politicians and civil-rights leaders called for "a sweeping federal investigation" into the Laquan McDonald case while leading a march that circled City Hall 16 times to mark the 16 times he was shot by a police officer.

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (D-Chicago) said it was meant "to represent every bullet that went into the body of Laquan McDonald," with all shots fired by officer Jason Van Dyke, who has since been charged with murder.

The march stepped off to chants of "no justice, no peace." City Hall officers estimated about 200 people took part in the two-hour protest.

"The whole country is watching Chicago," said Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-Chicago). "We should no longer stand for one more instance of injustice."

Boykin issued "a call for justice" and "a sweeping federal investigation" into the shooting of McDonald in October 2014 and the response over the following year by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. Calling it a "cover-up," Boykin charged it "began here at City Hall and it began with the state's attorney." Boykin directly questioned the mayor on "what did he know and when did he know it?"

"We have to walk for justice," added Ald. Christopher Taliaferro (29th), who criticized Emanuel's establishment of a Task Force on Police Accountability to address the issue. Taliaferro said the five persons named to the panel, including Police Board President Lori Lightfoot and Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, "all own impeccable resumes, but they also come with conflicts of interest." He asked that "independent leaders" be added to the panel.

"Our community has lost trust in the Mayor's Office," said Rev. Ira Acree, of the Greater St. John Bible Church. He called Emanuel a "distraction," the same word the mayor used in firing Police Supt. Garry McCarthy earlier in the week. Acree suggested the $5 million settlement in the McDonald case was "hush money."

Acree has previously compared the McDonald shooting to the death of Emmett Till.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. cited threats by Chicago Public Schools to lay off 5,000 teachers midway through the school year, adding, "How can the mayor lay off 5,000 teachers and give away $5 million sight unseen?"

Emanuel has insisted he did not see the McDonald dashcam video of the shooting until it was released to the public.

Jackson cited how it was the anniversary of the Dec. 4, 1969, police raid that killed Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, adding, "The corruption continues and we want it to end now."

West Side resident Grady Norwood Jr. joined the march and said Chicago has a problem with the status quo.

"The culture of corruption has to be dismantled. We're looking for a special prosecutor to look at the things from an independent standpoint," Norwood said. "We want State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign. She said that she won't, so we'll see her at the polls in March."

Earlier, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression likewise marked the anniversary of the Hampton and Clark slayings by calling for a Civilian Police Accountability Council with a demonstration outside Emanuel's office.

"Our movement is a continuation of their movement," said Frank Chapman, the group's field organizer.

Jeffrey Baker, of the Committee for a Better Chicago, added that the agency would establish "merely community control of the police," by establishing an oversight council, electing representatives by police district, to replace the Police Board and the Independent Police Review Authority.

The group has a proposed ordinance prepared, but Baker said, "We are looking for an alderman to be brave enough" to sponsor it in the City Council. It has the support of the Chicago Teachers Union, which has connected it to proposals for an elected Board of Education.

[DNAinfo/Evan F. Moore]

As the protesters marched around City Hall, they brushed past a group of high-school students on what appeared to be field trip.

"Seeing the young people out observing free speech is a wonderful thing,"  said Margaret Sents, a member of the People for a Safer Society. "I told them to pay attention to what's going on.

"It's one things tell the kids about free speech," she added, "it's another for them to see it to make a deeper impression."

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