Jason Van Dyke

Activists Gather on Laquan McDonald's Birthday, Call for Police Reform

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Chicago community leaders and activists gathered Friday evening in remembrance of Laquan McDonald, a Chicago 17-year-old fatally shot by police officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014, on what would have been his 23rd birthday.

Residents released birthday balloons in honor of McDonald, and made pleas for police reform and sweeping changes in Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police contract.

Community organizer William Calloway, who fought for the release of dash camera video of the shooting, which was released more than a year later, is calling for a complete overhaul of the contract.

"The Fraternal Order of Police contract is a very hazardous and problematic contract," he said.

A former educator, Calloway held a teach-in Friday night at 71st and Chappell in the city's South Shore neighborhood.

Amber Leaks, with Sisters of Substance, said such events can let people know what their rights are and what police can legally do.

"The justice system has not changed," she stated. "The value of Black lives hasn‘t changed. Even if you go on social media, you feel other races outraged."

Meanwhile, many community members and prominent local leaders marched to celebrate McDonald's life.

"Keep hope alive. Long live Laquan," said Rev. Jesse Jackson with the Rainbow Push Coalition. "Put hands together like you mean that."

NBC 5 reached out to the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police for comment, but had not received a response as of Friday night.

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