Laquan McDonald case: The hypocrisy of justice in the racist U.S.

Justice for Laquan McDonald protest in Chicago, Oct. 5, 2018.

During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — before he became the next settler-colonial imperialist-in-chief — he made the claim of being the law-and-order candidate. Trump stated, “We must maintain law and order at the highest level or we will cease to have a country, 100 percent.” (Politico, July 11, 2016)

He had also said that crime and violence are an attack on the poor and that lawless conduct would not be tolerated under a Trump administration. But what was he really saying?

It’s clear that the crime and violence he was talking about were not the crime of poverty that leaves people starving and struggling to survive on a daily basis.

Trump wasn’t talking about the violence of racist policing that targets poor, working-class and oppressed peoples in their own neighborhoods.

Nor was he referring to the violence of people not being provided with shelter, especially in times where in some parts of the country extreme temperatures have led to houseless folks losing their lives.

Instead, he was using his platform to strengthen racist narratives that target the poor and oppressed, while advocating for more police in their neighborhoods. And that’s exactly what he has done so far under his presidency.

In no way did he plan on holding accountable the lawless killer cops who commit the most heinous acts. So it should not come as a surprise when he is silent about the devastation the cops wreak on Black and Brown communities.

It’s no surprise that a system founded on genocide, rape, colonialism and slavery would be unwilling to hold these killer cops — and those who cover up for them — accountable.

Justice denied for Laquan McDonald

In the case of Laquan McDonald, an innocent Black teenager who was gunned down by the Chicago police in 2014, the hypocrisy of justice within the racist U.S. settler state is on full display.

His murderer was Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. After years of struggle in the streets by the community and activists demanding justice for Laquan, Van Dyke was finally convicted of second degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for each of the 16 shots that took Laquan McDonald’s life. (Chicago Sun-Times, October 5, 2018)

On Jan. 17, three Chicago police officers (David March, Joseph Walsh and Thomas Gaffney) who faced charges of falsifying reports and covering up the murder of Laquan were acquitted.

To make matters worse, the killer cop Van Dyke — who was looking at a possible sentence of 96 years — was sentenced to only 81 months in prison on Jan. 18. That’s less than seven years. And he has the possibility of being released in as little as three-and-a-half years.

The point made here by the racist court and so-called proponents of “law and order” is that this term doesn’t apply as long as you commit your crimes against the people on behalf of the repressive capitalist state. This kind of disregard for Black life by the courts emboldens white supremacists to feel they can terrorize Black and Brown people just as the police would.

A recent example of this terror is the attempted lynching of actor Jussie Smollett, a gay Black man, in Chicago on Jan. 29. Smollett was seriously beaten, had unknown chemicals poured on him and a noose put around his neck by two men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs. The men were reportedly wearing MAGA hats.

The growing assault on the most oppressed sections of our class by the capitalist state and the reactionaries that work alongside it must be resisted at all levels.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has ordered a review of “the record of law” in the case of Laquan McDonald, to investigate the court’s blatant disregard for the facts established at Van Dyke’s trial when it came time for sentencing him. Judge Vincent Gaughan’s decision was to find the most lenient possible sentence for killer cop Van Dyke — a luxury that is not afforded to working-class and poor Black and Brown people, who face the most relentless sentencings by the injustice system.

Laquan McDonald’s family and community organizers have teamed up to urge Attorney General Raoul to investigate further and appeal the sentence. At this link, you can sign the petition to support this campaign.

The call for community control over the police is as necessary now as it has ever been. We must continue to support the work of the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), led by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and work alongside the community and progressive organizations that seek to defend their lives and neighborhoods in every city and state.