Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders preached messages of reform and accountability Wednesday after people across the country watched the dash-cam video showing the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer after the video was released to the public on Tuesday.
In her statement, Clinton referenced a meeting she had earlier this month in Chicago with mothers whose children were victims of gun violence. She also called for more accountability and asked police officers to learn from their coworkers who perform their duty honorably and without use of excessive force.
"The family of Laquan McDonald and the people of Chicago deserve justice and accountability," Clinton said in her statement. "As criminal charges proceed in this case, we also have to grapple as a country with broader questions about ensuring that all our citizens and communities are protected and respected. The mothers I met recently in Chicago are right: we cannot go on like this. All over America, there are police officers honorably doing their duty, demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from and build on those examples. The loss of so many young African Americans taken too soon should reaffirm our commitment to press forward for progress."
Sanders called for "fundamental reform" in the criminal justice system and asked activists to take action beyond chanting "Black Lives Matter."
"All Americans should be sickened by the video of Laquan McDonald's murder," Sanders said in his statement. "As a nation we must do more than just echo the phrase Black Lives Matter. We must put actions behind these words. Actions that will bring about the fundamental reform that is needed in the face of this crisis. Criminal justice reform must be the civil rights issue of the 21st century and the first piece must be putting an end to the killing of African Americans by police officers."
The dash-cam video footage, which was described as "graphic" and "chilling," was released Tuesday, hours after Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder for shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times in October 2014.
Dan Herbert, Van Dyke's attorney, has argued the video alone is not enough to determine if Van Dyke "acted inappropriately" when he fatally shot McDonald, though he has described the footage as "graphic and violent" and "difficult to watch." He said outside the courtroom Tuesday that the case needs to be tried in a courtroom, "not in the streets or in the media."