Jason Van Dyke became the first Chicago police officer in 50 years to be found guilty of murder for an on-duty shooting after he was convicted earlier this month in the death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager he shot 16 times.
The jury’s decision was a huge sigh of relief for the city, which was bracing for an incendiary acquittal. For activist Will Calloway — who led Chicago activists in a victory lap — it was a triumph.
Calloway, along with journalist Brandon Smith, had successfully petitioned for the release of the dash cam video that showed McDonald’s murder, rendering Van Dyke immediately guilty in the court of public opinion.
Whether that would translate into the courtroom was anyone's guess though, and had Van Dyke been found not guilty in court, Calloway and other activists had plans to mobilize Chicagoans in a march on City Hall to make their frustrations known. Instead, they ended up celebrating the decision, eventually blocking off Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a popular retail strip where community activists have protested every Black Friday since Laquan’s death.
"To the black community, not just here but all across America. When they wouldn’t give us justice for Trayvon Martin, they didn’t give us justice for Mike Brown, they didn’t give us justice for Sandra Bland," Calloway told the crowd of activists. "But Chicago, we got justice for Laquan McDonald!"
But among Chicago's law enforcement, the mood was one of disbelief.
"The majority of people in this city are unaware what police officers do on a daily basis until you find yourself in their shoes," said Patrick Murray, vice president for the Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police. Murray said he'd once been in a confrontation similar to Van Dyke's and could empathize. "I had a guy come at me with a knife one time. So, I know exactly how he felt."
This segment originally aired October 9, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.