PI Original Ellyn Fortino Friday December 4th, 2015, 8:49pm

Rev. Jackson, Elected Officials Want Expanded Federal Probe Into Laquan McDonald Case (VIDEO)

Protests over the Laquan McDonald case continued in Chicago on Friday. Local elected officials and the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. called for a federal probe into the handling of the McDonald case by the offices of the mayor and Cook County State's Attorney. Another set of activists were there to push for an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council in Chicago.

Local politicians, faith leaders and community activists marched around Chicago's City Hall 16 times on Friday afternoon to call for justice for Laquan McDonald and demand a "sweeping" federal investigation into how the mayor's and Cook County States Attorney's offices handled the case.

Among those who marched around City Hall 16 times -- representing each bullet that struck McDonald -- were Cook County Commissioners Richard Boykin and Jesus "Chuy" Garcia as well as Chicago Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) and the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. of the Rainbow Push Coalition.

The protest came amid growing calls from politicians and community members for a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the Chicago Police Department's practices after last week's court-ordered release of the now-infamous dash-cam video showing officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old McDonald in October 2014. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez now support a federal probe into the CPD.

But those at today's march called for a more expansive federal investigation.

"One of the things that we want to call for is a sweeping federal investigation to cover the mayor's office and to cover the [Cook County] State's Attorney's office," Boykin told reporters. "This cover-up began here at City Hall and it began with the state's attorney. Anything less than a full investigation of the mayor himself and what he knew, when did he know it and what he did with that information is unacceptable."

Jackson added, "The federal government must be involved to conduct a full investigation with the power to subpoena, and let the facts fall where they may."

City Hall fought to keep the McDonald shooting video under wraps for more than a year until it was released last week as part of a court order. The city argues the video was not released sooner to avoid jeopardizing the case.

Alvarez brought first-degree murder charges against Van Dyke just hours before the dash-cam video went public. Earlier this week, Alvarez stated that she does "not apologize for conducting a meticulous and thorough investigation to build the strongest possible first-degree murder case against Officer Van Dyke."

Emanuel and Alvarez are facing calls from some to resign as a result of the handling of the McDonald case, but both have said they have no intentions of stepping down.

Amid the furor over the McDonald case, Emanuel fired his top cop Garry McCarthy on Tuesday and announced the creation of a police accountability task force.

Emanuel appointed five people to the task force, including Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot and Hiram Grau, former Illinois State Police director and Chicago Police Department deputy superintendent.

At Friday's protest, Taliaferro said more independent experts should be assigned to the panel.

"I asked the mayor to look at new members, rather than those that he's assembled already," the alderman said. "Surely I believe they all come with impeccable resumes, but they also come with conflicts of interest. Our investigative bodies of the Chicago Police Department have been long entrenched with some type of a cover-up." 

Meanwhile, next week the city is set to release video of another fatal police shooting. Ronald Johnson, 25, was shot and killed by Chicago police just days before McDonald in October 2014. On Thursday, Emanuel said the city will release the Johnson shooting video next week, after more than a year of fighting to keep it under wraps.

Jackson said the dash-cam video of Johnson's shooting should have been released sooner. Johnson "was killed eight days before Laquan was killed," Jackson said, adding that the video should have been "released 13 months ago."

Garcia, meanwhile, called for action on comprehensive criminal justice reform in Chicago and Cook County.

"We should no longer stand for one more incident of injustice against anyone in the Chicagoland area. Everyone's life is invaluable," he said. "Everyone's life must be respected, and now is the time to consider the various reform proposals on the table so that there is justice in Cook County and Chicago for every human being."

Here are scenes from the march and a separate event held earlier at City Hall by activists pushing for an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council:

Also speaking out at City Hall were activists with the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR). The group has led the ongoing campaign for an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), which would investigate and prosecute claims of crimes by Chicago police.  

"If the people were in charge of this process, we would not be here today. If the people had the power to indict, we would not be here today. If the people had the power to fire these officers, we would not be here today," CAARPR's Jeffrey Baker said this morning at City Hall outside the mayor's office. "If we could write the standard operating procedure, we would not be here today. That is what CPAC offers. That is what CPAC would do. It would allow the people to take control of the decision-making process. Right now, the decision-making process is in the hands of politicians. And politicians are politicking with our lives."

Asked whether any aldermen back the proposal, Baker said some have expressed support.

"Now we're looking for an alderman to be brave enough to actually walk this to city council," he said. "And the only way those aldermen are going to be brave enough, with the heavy-handed tactics that take place in our city council, is if the people get behind this process and give them the braveness to actually walk this through city council." 

CAARPR, which wants Emanuel and Alvarez to step down, plans to protest downtown next week outside the federal building. There, the group will drop off a letter demanding that the U.S. Justice Department investigate crimes the activists say were committed by Chicago police. 

One of the cases the group wants investigated is the shooting death of Flint Farmer, who was killed by Chicago police in 2011. 

Officer Gildardo Sierra was captured on video shooting an unarmed Farmer seven times, including three times in the back. The officer said he mistook a cellphone Farmer had for a gun. No charges were brought against Sierra. In 2013, the city provided a $4.1 million settlement to Farmer's father, Emmett. Read Progress Illinois' coverage of the Farmer case here.

"Anita Alvarez never indicted that police officer, Gildardo Sierra," Emmett said at City Hall today. 

There "still hasn't been any justice served in that case," he said. "Nothing has been done to this officer, and we want justice. I want justice for my son. I mean, this was caught right there on the dash-cam, just like Laquan McDonald."


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