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Laquan McDonald's Family Calls On President Obama To Help Chicago

By Joe Ward | December 11, 2015 9:21am | Updated on December 12, 2015 8:56am
 Protesters confront Chicago police officers Downtown Tuesday night after a video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times was released.
Protesters confront Chicago police officers Downtown Tuesday night after a video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times was released.
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Getty Images/Scott Olson

LAWNDALE — Speaking on behalf of his extended family and his slain great nephew, Rev. Marvin Hunter thanked the thousands who have protested in the name of Laquan McDonald, but said much more still needs to be done before the family finds closure.

"Their cries are all the same: justice," said Hunter said of protesters, addressing media from his Grace Memorial Church, 1457 S. Kenneth Ave. "They are marching because they could feel the pain of the ... family. Because they've felt it personally before."

Hunter said, while one officer pulled the trigger that killed Laquan in a hail of bullets not far from his home and church, a whole system failed to help the 17-year-old boy and many others like Laquan.

"Time and time again, black people are being mistreated by the legal system here, by the Chicago Police," Hunter said. "We're suffering because of laws and policies put in place. We need real resources to change that."

Hunter said the family wishes to host a summit in Lawndale, and called on President Barack Obama to legitimize the summit — and Chicago's policing problems — by sending a representative to the neighborhood.

Despite saying the whole of Chicago's political system was culpable in Laquan's death, Hunter would not call for the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He did, however, ask for State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign.

Hunter spoke from the front of his church with about 40 family members behind him.

He said Laquan's mother, Tina Hunter, was not present.

"She's not here today because she's hurting," he said. "She don't want to be seen no more."

Hunter, who is Laquan's great uncle, said there had been some "soft attempts" from some community members to get at the $5 million that was controversially rewarded to Tina after Laquan's death but six months before Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with murder.

Hunter said, of the settlement and why they decided to settle so early, that even they don't know how much a 17-year-old's life is worth.

"This is about money, but it's not about money in a settlement," he said. "It's about money and resources coming to the community of North Lawndale."

Hunter wrapped up by thanking the young people — including controversial protester Lamon Reccord, who was present in a "Rahm failed us" t-shirt — for leading the path to real change in Chicago.

"In this case, I think Chicago and America's chickens came home to roost," he said of Laquan's death. "But one day, God is going to let [Tina Hunter] smile again."

Earlier Friday, a group of pastors spoke to reporters at City Hall about their effort to recall Mayor Rahm Emanuel by supporting Rep. La Shawn Ford's push to amend the Revised Cities and Villages Act of 1941. If revised, Chicagoans could potentially remove Emanuel — or any mayor of the city — from power through a recall election.

Ford introduced the measure Wednesday, which "establishes a procedure for an election to recall the Mayor of Chicago."

According to ABC Chicago, religious leaders said they would collect signatures needed to move Ford's measure forward. 

"We'll be at the malls. We'll be at barber shops. We'll be in churches. We'll be there, collecting petitions. The same 85,000 signatures that's needed, we're going to deliver those signatures to the mayor's office on the fifth floor," Bishop James Dukes told ABC.

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