Teachers union leader joins Friday march, urges members to attend

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Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis is joining the “Black Friday” march on Michigan Avenue to protest the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who died after a Chicago Police officer shot him 16 times.

Lewis rallied thousands of her members earlier this week in Grant Park, giving a speech in which she highlighted injustices and inequality throughout the city.

“It is time to turn our pain into power,” Lewis said Thursday, announcing her participation in the march hosted by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a CTU ally who prayed in Grant Park with her. She also welcomed CTU members to “express their outrage and dignity.”

“I am appalled at the level of leadership exhibited by city officials in this case,” she continued.

Outrage and protests followed the court-ordered release of a dashcam video of McDonald’s shooting death. That led to meeting at Rainbow PUSH headquarters on Wednesday, organized by Jackson. The closed-door meeting led to plans for the Black Friday march, as well as a renewed demand for the resignation of Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and a special prosecutor to handle the prosecution of Jason Van Dyke, the officer charged with McDonald’s murder.

Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by a Chicago Police officer in 2014. | Provided

One of the protesters arrested so far is a CTU member, Johnae Strong, who teaches third grade at Ogden Elementary School.

Chicago Public Schools released a lesson plan Wednesday in which it asked staffers to help students “imagine the best possible outcome” from the tension unleashed by the recent release of dashcam videos showing Van Dyke shooting McDonald multiple times at close range as McDonald lumbered down the street.

The union praised CPS for turning the incident into a teachable moment, but lamented deep cuts to mental health and other support programs that might help students cope.

Contributing: Maudlyne Ihejirika

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