What would Laquan McDonald say today?

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Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke (right) is charged with murder in the shooting death of teenager Laquan McDonald. | Provided and file photos

What would Laquan say?

Would he ask, “Why, Mr. Police Officer, did you have to shoot me 16 times?” Or: “Sir, please tell me what was on your mind?”

Or: “Why am I now confined to eternal sleep in my casket while you are still free to live your life, to grow old, to breathe? Why am I forever 17?”


Would Laquan wonder aloud, with tears in his brown eyes: Why, on the night of Oct. 20, 2014, he had to die?

Would he question the reported lie: That he was lunging at an officer with a knife, and shot by that officer in “self-defense” — when the police dash-cam video shows that Laquan was, in truth, walking away?

Would Laquan McDonald weep ceaselessly, if he could speak today?

Would he wonder why, in America, heavily armed white males who have committed mass murder get taken alive by the authorities and get the chance to live another day, while unarmed black men or a black boy with a pocketknife instead get blown away?

Wonder why black lives seem to matter less among “them” but also among “us”? About why black folks protest and march when a white cop shoots a black man but catch laryngitis when it comes to us killing us?

Would Laquan question with amazement how hypocritical police and politicians quickly scold folks in the hood for walking according to the “no snitch” rule, while cops follow the code of silence and remain forever loyal to blue?

If Laquan could take the stand and testify in the murder trial of Jason Van Dyke, what might he do to gain the empathy of judge and jurors? Might he unveil his bullet-ridden body so that they could study his 16 wounds? Or narrate the video, frame-by-frame, that shows his body jerking with each of the penetrating 16 copper-jacketed rounds, smoke rising from his anguished mass toward the autumn moon?

What would Laquan say?

“Why don’t I get to have children?”

“Why won’t I get to see my grandchildren someday?”

“Why didn’t I get the chance to turn my life around? To, as an adult someday, right any wrongs or overcome any abuses suffered at the hands of adults who should have protected, nurtured, guided me? Why for me is there no more possibility?”

“Why will I never get to marry? Never see another sunrise? Never feel the cool of water upon my tongue? Never kiss. Never speak again? Never run?”

Why — when he had a pocketknife and was turned the other way? No lunge. No gun. And yet, blown away. What would Laquan say?

Would he be naïve to believe that a white cop could be convicted of murdering a black boy in Bigger Thomas’ town, where racial hatred and divisiveness blow like the wind, stain the soil? Where racial tensions still boil.

In this, Jon Burge‘s town, where rogue detectives beat, suffocated, tortured and brutalized black males into false confessions. In an America, where the stereotype of all black men as criminals still fills racist perceptions.

In this city, where Mayor Richard J. Daley, in 1968, gave the order for police to shoot to kill. Where Fred Hampton and Mark Clark’s eyes were eternally sealed by cops early one morning while they slept. And we all wept.

Where 52 years ago Dr. King was stoned. How far have we come? How much have we grown?

Would Laquan have confidence that in the end, for him, justice will be served? Here, in Chicago, where the reality of injustice still burns, where we still yearn for justice?

If he were alive today, what would Laquan say?

Email: Author@johnwfountain.com

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.

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