On what would have been Laquan McDonald’s 23rd birthday, a crowd gathered and counted to 16 — one for every police shot fired into McDonald — before releasing 400 teal-and-white balloons, signifying the number of days activists fought to get the police video of the teenager’s 2014 killing released.
Chicago residents and activists, including Will Calloway and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, gathered Friday in the South Shore neighborhood to pay tribute to McDonald, reflect on his legacy and discuss what more needs to be done to reform the Chicago police.
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times, killing him in October 2014. Five years later, Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. Van Dyke was sentenced in January 2019 to six years and nine months in prison.
Jeffery Phillips and Jawanda Hairston of Woodlawn attended Friday’s event, accompanied by their 17-year-old son, Zimmie. Phillips said it was important to bring people with different perspectives together and noted his own son was the same age as McDonald when he was killed.
“It could have been him very easily,” Phillips said.