Lightford101618On October 5, a jury of Chicagoans weighed the facts and delivered justice by convicting Jason Van Dyke for the murder of Laquan McDonald.

Four years ago, it would have been hard to imagine this outcome and the changes that have come in the aftermath of the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting.

Thanks to the eyewitnesses who felt compelled to tell their stories, to the activists who protested and organized, to independent journalists who fought to bring the truth to light and to the voters who held their elected officials accountable there have been real changes.

The City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department are different today in many ways:

• Superintendent Eddie Johnson now heads the police department.
• Kim Foxx is now the Cook County State’s Attorney.
• The Police Accountability Taskforce released a report concluding grossly inadequate oversight and racism at CPD.
• The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus lead a state-wide policing reform measure regarding body cameras, prohibiting the use of chokeholds and officer training among other changes.
• The City of Chicago now has a policy for releasing footage of police shootings.
• There is a new ‘use of force’ policy at CPD.
• The Civilian Police Investigative Agency was created.
• Seven police officers were fired for filing false reports in the McDonald shooting.

These changes came from unity. They are the result of people joining together across Chicago, Cook County and the state of Illinois to demand better. You have shown that good things can happen when we come together in the name of justice and equality. You have shown that justice still exists and the voice and will of the people remains a powerful tool.

None of this changes the fact that Laquan was taken from us too soon, nor does it fill the void left in his family. But his murder has motivated a fight for justice that still continues.

Now is not the time to go silent. An election is upon us. Be heard at the ballot box.

You made your voice count. Now make your vote count.

I encourage you to continue your efforts in November, next year and until you get what you deserve. I see you, and I am with you.

- Kimberly A. Lightford serves as Chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and Assistant Majority Leader in the Illinois Senate

Category: News

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