On Tuesday night, something both journalists and activists had been fighting to achieve for more than a year finally came to pass: the city of Chicago released dash-cam video of the fatal police shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald, laying bare major falsehoods in police officials' initial descriptions of the event, and sparking a night of urgent protests in the city's streets. It also prompted a statement from his loved ones, too — here's how Laquan McDonald's family responded to the shooting video's release.
As shocking and revelatory as the video may have been for so many people, its contents came as no surprise to McDonald's family. They'd already seen the video by the time it was made public, having struck a $5 million settlement between themselves and the city of Chicago back in April. And, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel mentioned on Tuesday night, they actually didn't want it to be released — the family cited the risk of increased trauma, both to themselves and the community, according to WGN.
And on Tuesday night, they spoke out again, this time by way of a statement issued by their attorneys, Michael Robbins and Jeffrey Neslund. Saying they appreciated the "outpouring of love and support," they also urged against any violence or chaos erupting in the slain 17-year-old's name.
We [the family of Laquan McDonald] deeply appreciate the outpouring of love and support for Laquan. This is a difficult time for us. As we have said in the past, while we would prefer that the video not be released we understand that a court has ordered otherwise.
We ask for calm in Chicago. No one understands the anger more than us but if you choose to speak out, we urge you to be peaceful. Don't resort to violence in Laquan's name. Let his legacy be better than that.
It's entirely understandable why McDonald's family feels this way — having already seen their child slain killed one of the worst ways possible, now watching his death become the focal point of a nationwide protest movement covered heavily by countless media outlets could be incredibly upsetting and re-traumatizing, even though it's undeniably a story of huge public importance.
Last week, after a judge ordered the video's release, McDonald's uncle Shyrell Johnson broke the suspense by telling WGN precisely what everyone would see:
My nephew is shot in the back and all of those other places 16 times. Even when he was on the ground, the officer was still shooting him.
For what it's worth, all reports indicate that the family's calls for peace were heeded on Tuesday night — according to The New York Times, the night was almost completely peaceful, with a mere five arrests made among the massive throngs of protesters.