A Chicago Public Schools teacher was one of four people arrested Tuesday night during downtown protests after the release of the police dashcam video of Laquan McDonald’s fatal shooting.
Johnaé Strong, a third-grade teacher at Ogden International School in the Near North Side neighborhood, was charged with one misdemeanor count of resisting a police officer.
Strong said she was arrested about 7:30 p.m. near Balbo and Michigan amid “a tension that was being created that was very purposeful.”
“The police were agitating us,” she said. “That aggression from police towards us made it difficult for us to keep tabs on everyone. They were definitely physical with more than a few folks.”
Strong, a Cleveland native, said she was pulled from behind by police and placed into handcuffs. Strong and another arrestee were driven to the 1st District station at 18th and State, where she was held until 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, when she paid her $120 bond, she said.
The 25-year-old University of Chicago graduate’s next court appearance is scheduled in January, she said.
She wasn’t sure whether her supervisors at CPS and Ogden were aware of her arrest as of Wednesday afternoon, but she was confident that she would have their support.
“I have a lot of folks who understand the link between education, justice and the fight against other institutions that are harmful to our community,” she said. “I believe a lot of folks will be supportive.”
Poet and community activist Malcolm X. London also was arrested and charged with aggravated battery to a police officer during Tuesday’s protests. That charge was dropped Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutors didn’t say why they chose to dismiss the charge against the 22-year-old Austin resident.
Strong joined dozens of London’s fellow supporters outside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after his charges were dropped. She said there was a palpable feeling of positivity.
“It was a beautiful place,” she said. “There was a dignity in the air that was very powerful.”
Strong said that joining protesters on Tuesday night was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It was part of her work with an organizing collective that targets police brutality and a lack of police accountability, among other things.
While the protests Tuesday night may have been spurred by the city’s release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video, protests will continue working toward “fixing a system that creates these kinds of situations,” she said.
“This is going to continue in terms of organized actions and speaking to and demanding accountability,” she said. “It should go beyond just this.”