Chicago is bracing for potential riots and civil unrest after the release of a graphic video which shows a police officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald sixteen times.
The incident occurred in October 2014 but the footage was only released yesterday as a result of a court order.
The clip, labeled “graphic, violent, and chilling” by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, shows McDonald, who was armed with a knife, jogging towards police officers, but he then appears to walk away as Officer Jason Van Dyke opens fire.
The footage appears to contradict claims by Van Dyke that he fired the shots because McDonald lunged at him with the knife or that he was afraid for his life. The speed and ruthlessness with which McDonald was gunned down appears to be completely indefensible.
Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder, but this hasn’t stopped concerns that protests, which already became violent last night, could flare up into riots similar to what happened in Baltimore earlier this year.
— Kevin Gosztola (@kgosztola) November 25, 2015
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has urged demonstrators to “remain peaceful,” but Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass warned that the video, “could tear Chicago apart.”
Dean Angelo, the president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, also told WBBM that agitators from outside the city could be planning to cause chaos.
“This is my city. We all live here,” Angelo said. “I’m concerned about the safety of my officers. I’m concerned about the safety of the civilian population. … I think local people don’t want to see their neighborhoods damaged.”
— Justin Allen (@Allen_Justin) November 25, 2015
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner also said that he expects public reaction to be “strong” but declined to say whether he had put the National Guard on standby.
“Even at the best of times, Chicago seems to be dealing with turmoil. Poverty is a persistent and growing problem, the city is teetering on the brink of insolvency, and it has become a central hub for some of the largest criminal gangs in the entire nation,” writes Michael Synder, who accurately predicted that Baltimore would be hit by riots even before the Freddie Gray shooting.
“Now that this video is available to the public, it could set off anger unlike anything we have seen up to this point, and that would not be good for any of us,” warns Snyder.
‘Black Lives Matter’ activists were criticized for failing to denounce riots and looting after the Michael Brown and Freddie Gray shootings, with many questioning why African-Americans were encouraged to tear down their own neighborhoods.
Some mainstream media outlets also fanned the flames, with Time Magazine infamously publishing an article entitled In Defense of Rioting at the height of the unrest in Ferguson.
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