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Spike In Police Shootings Shows Need For 'Laquan's Law,' Activists Say

By Joe Ward | November 28, 2016 2:16pm
 Activists visit the office of Rep. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) to demand passage of the
Activists visit the office of Rep. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) to demand passage of the "Laquan Law" that would give voters the ability to recall elected officials.
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DNAinfo/Joe Ward

CHATHAM — After five people were fatally shot by police this month, activists say a state bill named after one of the most high profile police shooting victims is needed more than ever.

Activists are seeking the passage of "Laquan's Law," a law that would allow citizens to recall an elected official through a special election. The law, named after 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, would help hold accountable the officials who have failed to protect against police shootings, the activists say. 

"It's important this legislation pass," said William Calloway, the activist who helped author the bill. "It's important to the legacy of Laquan McDonald that it pass."

McDonald was 17 when he was shot 16 times and killed by a Chicago Police officer on Oct. 20, 2014. It took until Nov. 24, 2015, for the city to release video showing the officer, Jason Van Dyke, shooting McDonald. Van Dyke was charged with murder just hours before the video was released.

Calloway and sponsor Rep. Kenneth Dunkin announced the bill on the second anniversary of McDonald's death in October. (Dunkin was defeated in the primary in his re-election bid.)

Five people have been killed by police this month, including four people killed within the last 10 days, Chicago Police have said.

At least three of those victims had either shot at police or were seen by officers shooting others, police said. In one case, a police sergeant shot and killed 19-year-old Kajuan Raye who appeared to be unarmed and was allegedly running away when he was shot. The activists are asking for the state's attorney's office to open a criminal investigation into Raye's death.

The recent shootings show politicians have been ineffective in changing the police department's practices, or worse, don't have the desire to reform the department, Calloway said.

"We have a long way to go," Calloway said at a press conference outside a South Side state representatives office Monday. "The Justice Department is here and the shooting is still going on. We need the power to hold officers and politicians accountable."

Calloway said politicians should also be held accountable for failing to stop neighborhood shootings, which makes up the majority of the city's spiking gun violence. He said he knew a 19-year-old football star killed last week on the West Side.

"It shows the lack of resources. There's so much we need," Calloway said. "We have to have accountability for elected officials."

While activists say police need more oversight, the Chicago Tribune reported over the weekend that a spotlight on officer conduct has destroyed morale and led to a massive decrease in arrests.

"There's much more scrutiny, there's much more second-guessing," one sergeant told the Tribune. "It's almost like we're the bad guys."

A public hearing of Laquan's Law will be held in Springfield Tuesday. The activists were asking Rep. Algie Sims (D-Chicago) to bring the bill for a vote in the Judiciary Committee.

The bill would amend current laws so the city's mayor, aldermen and the Cook County state's attorney could be recalled through a special election.

Organizers would be able to set up a petition to recall the mayor and aldermen, and if the number of signatures they received was equal to or greater than 10 percent of the total votes in the last mayoral election, a recall special election would be held.

Just 5 percent of the total votes in the last election for state's attorney would be needed for a recall special election for that post.

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