We know that on the fateful night of October 20, 2014, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke fired 16 bullets into the body of 17 year old Laquan McDonald. Officer Van Dyke was charged with 1st degree murder. The criminal investigation will take its due course. It is highly likely that Officer Van Dyke will be convicted of 1st degree murder, and based on evidence at this point, rightfully so. Van Dyke was at one end of this tragedy, holding a gun in his hand, firing bullets. But why did those bullets meet the body of a 17 year old teenager who had a knife in his hand and was breaking into vehicles and slashing tires? Answering that question is critical to answering who really killed Laquan McDonald.
It is said that it takes a village to raise a child and similarly, it took a village to kill a young black teenager. Failing social support structure, lack of political leadership for the south side, teacher’s unions unwilling to take responsibility for failing schools, racially motivated police force, lack of employment opportunities, incarceration rates for young black males, and lack of individual responsibility all combined to make sure that Laquan McDonald was at the other end of those bullets the night of October 20, 2014. But let there be no doubt about it – if not that night, he would have been at the other end of bullets some other night. Instead of Officer Van Dyke, it would have been a different officer or a gang member firing those bullets. Or he would have ended up incarcerated. He was marked man – one way or the other and we know that he is not the only one.
Why then all the anger is focused on the Chicago PD or Officer Van Dyke? Because that helps everyone else in the village escape culpability – the culpability that comes from betraying Laquan McDonalds of the world. But focusing only on the source of bullets and not on what put Laquan McDonald on the other end of those bullets, we will never solve the root of this problem – we will merely keep hacking at the symptoms of the problem.