‘You can say it’s corruption and cover-up, but at the end of the day, without a culture of white supremacy, things like this wouldn’t be real.’
Chicago’s cover-up scandal is deepening after city officials were forced to release additional surveillance footage of the deadly shooting of 17-year-old African American Laquan McDonald by a white officer—and it showed an unexplained 80-minute gap covering the time the teenager was killed.
The missing footage aligns with the account of Jay Darshane, the manager of the Burger King that is located roughly 50 yards from the killing, who told a grand jury in November that police tampered with the restaurant’s surveillance system, erasing roughly 86 minutes of footage. In addition, the manager told the Chicago Tribune that the FBI confiscated the restaurant’s surveillance images.
The footage itself was only released to the Chicago Tribune Thursday night after numerous Freedom of Information Act requests. The paper reports that all surveillance footage from 12 angles both within and outside of the Burger King has a gap of roughly 80 minutes. This gap covers the time when McDonald was shot by white police officer Jason Van Dyke.
In the part of the footage that immediately follows the gap, a police officer wearing a bullet-proof vest can be seen sitting at a computer in the back of the Burger King while another walks around.
Since McDonald was killed with 16 shots on October 20, 2014, the city has vigorously opposed public release of footage showing the shooting. In fact, officials only released the chilling video (warning: disturbing footage) of the killing after they were forced to by a lawsuit issued by independent journalist Brandon Smith.
The killing and cover-up sparked city-wide and national outrage, including recent Black Friday protests in which demonstrators chanted: “How many shots? Sixteen shots.” The nationwide movement for black lives also took up the call “Justice for Laquan!”
At least 1,048 people have been killed by U.S. police so far in 2015—266 of them black.
“It’s just racism and white supremacy. There is no other way to to say it,” Veronica Morris Moore of the Chicago-based organization Fearless Leading of the Youth, told Common Dreams. “You can say it’s corruption and cover-up, but at the end of the day, without a culture of white supremacy, things like this wouldn’t be real. These are the constant experiences that black people have to go through.”
The scandal has already led to the firing of the city’s top cop and growing calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign—from city residents as well as black members of Congress. Grassroots organizers say that it will take far more than a few firings or video releases to rectify the deep problems the city faces.
Camesha Jones of Black Youth Project 100 told Common Dreams that the group is demanding “that all of those who were involved in the Laquan McDonald tape cover-up resign immediately; that includes Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez. They are public servants and have made decisions that have harmed the Black community.”
“We envision that our elected officials will make ethical decisions and keep our communities safe,” Jones continued. “However, time and time again that has not happened. The police and city officials have not shown accountability. They continue to deny and minimize the police violence and corruption in Chicago.”