16 Shots, 400 Days Later

From: Illinois African American Coalition For Prevention

The story of 17-year old Laquan McDonald is a tragic tale of a failed system, designed to save our children. Through a series of tragic events and DCFS involvement, Laquan surpassed expectations by turning his life around, attending school regularly, working towards graduation and obtaining summer employment. On October 20, 2014, the life of Laquan came to an even more tragic end. The simple details are that police were called to 40th and Karlov, due to reports of a man with a knife and shortly thereafter, Laquan was dead. The more intricate details will unfold as we review the released dash cam video.

The Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention (ILAACP) stands in solidarity with activists, clergy and community organizers in the demand for justice. We seek answers and accountability for the chain of events that led to Laquan McDonald’s death. We seek answers and accountability for the nearly 400 day delay in releasing the dash cam video and charging officer Van Dyke with murder. We seek justice, not retribution. We also ask for peaceful demonstration of our first amendment rights in seeking that justice.

While there are undoubtedly numerous questions that need to be answered, there are equally numerous possibilities for us to advance equitable strategies that strengthen the Chicago Police Department’s relationship with communities of color, especially police interaction with our young black men and boys. And let us not stop there. Let’s leverage our collective outrage and concern over Laquan’s death to demand intensive financial and human capital investments (vs. superficial) in Chicago communities that continue to unfairly bear a disproportionate share of our city’s open air drug markets, food deserts, lack of affordable housing, poor performing schools, wanton violence, and unemployment.

We have an opportunity before us to rewrite the narrative for all of the Rekia Boyds, Laquan McDonalds, and Tyshawn Lees of Chicago. We have an opportunity to build safer, healthier, and more resilient African American children, families, and communities. Let us seize, and not squander, this opportunity.

Established in 2015, the Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention is a statewide, membership-based charitable organization that strengthens prevention systems, policies, and programs in underserved communities through culturally-relevant research, training, and advocacy.


Yours in Service and Struggle,
Malik S. Nevels, J.D.