Chicago protests over police shooting of black teen

Peaceful demonstrations continue after video released of white officer gunning down teenager a year after the attack.

The release of a graphic video showing the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white policeman has ignited peaceful protests in the US city of Chicago.

President Barack Obama said he was “deeply disturbed” by the video footage showing officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 16-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

The video was released a year after the incident – only after an independent journalist filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The police department had argued that releasing the video would taint multiple investigations.

“Thirteen months ago, a young man was killed. Why did it take so long to make public the tape?” Jesse Jackson, the prominent civil rights activist, told Al Jazeera. “Why did those who knew about it decide to withhold it from the public?” 

Hundreds of people marched on Wednesday night, with some demonstrators chanting: “Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell.”

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So far five arrests have been made with more protests planned at the Chicago Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday and another on Friday.

Community leaders, angered at the latest incident of white policemen killing black men, have backed peaceful protests and are demanding change.

“A clear transparent process is the only way we can begin to build trust in our communities with law enforcement,” Roderick Sawyer, from the Chicago Black Caucus, told Al Jazeera.

Members of the Chicago City Council’s black caucus have demanded the resignation of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

“We want McCarthy gone. We want new leadership,” Alderman Roderick Sawyer said at a news conference.


Obama said on his Facebook page on Wednesday that he was asking Americans to “keep those who’ve suffered tragic loss in our thoughts and prayers” this Thanksgiving.

“And to be thankful for the overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform who protect our communities with honour.” 

A national debate on race and police tactics has led to protests and sometimes violence in major cities following the deaths of mostly unarmed black men at the hands of police officers across the US.

The killings – some of which were captured on video – were a factor in the rise of the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement, and have become an issue in the November 2016 US presidential election campaign.

On Tuesday, prosecutors charged Van Dyke, 37, with first-degree murder in the death of the black teenager.