Laquan McDonald

Laquan McDonald was resilient. Born to a single 14-year-old mother in Chicago’s dangerous West Side, he and his younger sister were second-generation wards of the state. They were shuttled in and out of foster homes, suffering from neglect, abuse, and sexual assault, all before the age of 6. Laquan eventually found a stable home living with his great-grandmother. He was a hugger and extremely protective of his sister; but he was also traumatized by his childhood, alternatively skittish and angry. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Over time, his replaced his PTSD meds with marijuana and other drugs. He spent much of his teens in and out of juvie for fighting and minor drug offenses. But he kept striving to be better: the word his teachers, therapists, and even judges most often used to describe him, again and again, was “resilient.” He was a jovial and hardworking student and had earned a scholarship for his work in an after-school youth advocacy program. He had learned to install and paint drywall, and was hoping to turn his part-time apprenticeship into a full time career.

Laquan McDonald was murdered by police on October 20, 2014 for carrying a knife. Responding to 9-1-1 calls about a man breaking into vehicles, cops confronted Laquan, who was carrying a 3-inch knife. Laquan slashed the tires of the cruiser and ran off, but more cops quickly caught up and lined the street. Laquan continued walking, moving away from the police cars. As cops discussed Tasing him, one cop instead simply walked forward and opened fire on Laquan as he walked by, unloading 16 rounds in 15 seconds, most striking the boy after he had already collapsed. The department attempted to hide the dash-cam footage and falsified the official report to claim the cop had given Laquan ample warning, and that kid had charged cops with the knife. When the dash-cam footage was released, the Department of Justice implicated the department in a cover-up. The shooter was convicted of murder, but the cops implicated in the cover-up were acquitted.

Black lives matter.

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