From ‘Sham' to ‘Sigh of Relief': Officials React to Van Dyke Verdict

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police president called the trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke a “sham” and the guilty verdict “shameful,” in a statement Friday.

Chris Southwood said it was a day in America he thought he’d never see “where 12 ordinary citizens were duped into saving the asses of self-serving politicians at the expense of a dedicated public servant.”

“This sham trial and shameful verdict is a message to every law enforcement officer in America that it's not the perpetrator in front of you that you need to worry about, it's the political operatives stabbing you in the back,” Southwood said. “What cop would still want to be proactive fighting crime after this disgusting charade, and are law abiding citizens ready to pay the price?”

Many other officials and politicians issued statements after a jury found Van Dyke guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago police Supt. Eddie Johnson urged Chicagoans to "hear each other and partner with each other."

Gov. Bruce Rauner released a succinct statement after the verdict was read.

“Twelve jurors reviewed the evidence and rendered their verdict," he said. "We should all respect their decision. Now is the time to move forward as a community.”

Gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker issued a joint statement with his running mate Juliana Stratton saying justice was finally served.

“While there is still so much work to do, we believe this verdict represents an important step — one of many — towards fostering an environment of respect and accountability between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” the statement said.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez called the verdict a close to “one of the ugliest chapters in Chicago history.”

“The facts were clear and despite the efforts of the Emanuel Administration to keep the truth from the public, the truth has come to light,” he said.

State Comptroller Suana Mendoza said the legal system had “done its job.”

“The tragic events of that fateful night tore our City apart,” her statement read. “Yet even in its darkest moments, Chicago, a city of grit and resolve, of faith and family, has shown its ability to come together, heal its broken heart, and move itself forward. We need each other today, more than ever before; to stand together as one family, all of us, and work to heal our great City.

She said now is the time for residents to focus on rebuilding trust between police and the communities they serve—which she said has been broken for decades.

“Lastly I want to express my sincere condolences to the family of Laquan McDonald and hope that today’s verdict can help bring them some peace and justice,” Mendoza said.

State Sen. Mattie Hunter said many were breathing a "sigh of relief" and that justice was served.

“In the coming days and weeks, please be thoughtful about the small acts of peace and progress you can make,” Hunter said. “And I encourage you to sit down with your family, friends and community members and have conversations about how to improve the relationship between law enforcement officers and citizens of Chicago.”

Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell also called for unity in Chicago’s communities.

“That connection helps us understand that Laquan McDonald’s tragic death serves as another reminder that our priorities need to be for reinvestment in all our communities, with access to jobs, high quality schools, and affordable housing options,” Dowell said.

“The brave men and women of the Chicago Police Department risk their lives daily protecting and serving the people of Chicago, and the clear majority serve valiantly and without need for recognition,” Dowell said. "Office Van Dyke has been judged by a jury of his peers as to betraying that service ideal and will now be punished for it. Let us all please act and recognize the humanity in all of Chicago’s residents and work together to prevent a tragedy like Laquan McDonald’s death from happening again.”

Chicago Teachers Union president Jesse Sharkey called McDonald’s death one of the “most shocking instances of brutality in the history of our city.”

“Our members taught him, and he was a child of the communities in which they live. He was raised on streets covered in the blood of the generations before him who've been bludgeoned by economic, social and racial injustice,” Sharkey said. “He deserved justice, and today’s verdict shows that the jury recognized his humanity and the tragedy that befell him.”

All athletic competitions at Chicago Public Schools will be canceled on Friday after the Jason Van Dyke verdict, CPS announced on Friday.

Contact Us