Archived: Chicago Mayor Pleads for Calm Amid Protests as Trial Date Set in Laquan McDonald Shooting

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has asked his city to remain calm as protests carry on for the shooting of a Black man by police — and as a trial date is set for the officer who fatally shot Laquan McDonald in 2014.

The trial will take place on Sept. 5th, after a hearing in August to potentially move the trial to a location outside of Chicago.

“I hope that we avoid retreating to our respective corners and trying to yell over each other,” he said. “Take this moment as a city to do something different than other cities and other instances. Take a step back and hear each other, learn from each other and see in our own small ways how to make a difference for the future.”

But the city has had enough of unanswered questions.

Harith Augustus, 37, was shot dead by police this past weekend on the South Side of Chicago, and disputes over what really happened have led many activists to question motives of the police and the mayor in how they handle the investigation.

Initial reports stated that Augustus, known around his neighborhood as a quiet barber, had a concealed carry permit. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said over the weekend that this is not true and that Augustus appeared to be reaching for a weapon.

“We’re not trying to hide anything. We’re not trying to fluff anything,” he said. “This video speaks for itself.”

The video contains no audio. A shadow of doubt remains over the events of the shooting as Chicagoans and activists see yet another fatality of a Black man at the hands of police.

The police released body cam footage quickly following the shooting — in sharp contrast with how the city handled McDonald’s shooting, footage of which Chicago sat on for more than a year. A judge eventually compelled the city to publicize the video.

It quickly became clear why authorities did not want it seen: it contradicted what officers said happened.

Police initially said McDonald lunged at them, holding a knife, and described him as “crazed.”

According to dash cam footage, McDonald did have a knife, but he was walking away from officers. He ignored commands to stop. Jason Van Dyke fired a shot at McDonald, who spun and fell to the ground. In about 15 seconds, Van Dyke shot McDonald a total of 16 times, with some shots taken while McDonald was already on the ground.

Van Dyke pleaded not guilty to charges including first-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery.

Activist William Calloway said the news has been long-awaited.

“It took ’em 400 days after the shooting to be charged, it took ’em 2 1/2 years to have a trial date set,” he said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think it’s a spirit of jubilee on me and on the community that a trial date has been set and in less than two months (Van Dyke) will face justice.”

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