Two Lives Lost & Justice For Laquan McDonald

pondering laquan mcdonald

As disciples of Jesus living in Chicago, it is impossible to miss the hard realities that surround us. Amid the sprawl of wealth, prosperity, and vibrance remain scorched roots of a people punished, from the formation of our country through this moment. Yesterday, now and tomorrow, our Black brothers and sisters are punished. For what?

On Friday, October 5th 2018, for the first time in over 50 years, a Chicago police officer was convicted of murder for an on-duty offense. Jason Van Dyke is going to jail, justice was finally served, and precedent set.

We met this news with a sigh of relief, followed by the bittersweet realization that Black Americans will wake up tomorrow punished for nothing more than the white establishment’s fear and ignorance of beautiful, vibrant people who it doesn’t understand.

As followers of the man from Galilee, we need to be very careful about how we react to this situation. I propose we consider the following:

  1. Respond With Love - Above all, no matter what, your response to this situation needs to be rooted in love and compassion. For those of us (like me) who use justice to justify sinful outlash, here’s Paul: If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
  2. Two Tragedies - Our response to these events must reflect the grace that we’ve received. As hard as it is, Jason Van Dyke, his children, family, and sympathizers need to feel grace and love from the body of Christ. Their lives are changed forever. Pray for strength to forgive and wisdom to do it in a way that upholds the dignity of Black Americans everywhere.
  3. Justice is Not Alive & Well - Though a victory in principal, please do not forget that we’ve only captured the first pawn of the game. This was a flash of justice in an ocean of inequity. At this pace, we are light years away from an institution of justice. So, smile at you neighbor, appreciate the progress, and ready yourself for the work ahead.

Closing thoughts in the wake of the Laquan McDonald case:

In my opinion, this was not even close to the most damning case we’ve seen over the past few years. So, how did we get this one right and miss on the others? We need to make sure that this is the precedent for future hearings and not just a random glimpse of justice.

Big picture: surely, the founders of this country never believed that all men are created equal. We are all endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, but we live in a country where those have been rationed according to skin color and gender.

Chicago is especially bad. In 1960, the typical white family earned 1.6 and 1.4 times more than the typical black and Latino family. Today, the typical white family earns 2.2 and 1.7 times more respectively. The black unemployment rate is over four times the city’s white unemployment rate. (big ups to UIC for the stats) Don’t get me started on incarceration, education, housing, health and all of the other tools of racial injustice that we have used against our brothers and sisters. So, let’s drop the red had and focus on making America great ASAP.

Perspective from our brothers and sisters (via Twitter):

Natalie Y Moore, South Side Reporter, WBEZ

Laquan McDonald and black Chicagoans had to prove their humanity throughout the Jason Van Dyke trial


Jason Helveston, Elder for Teaching and Vision, Church in the Square, Logan Square

Grieving that life has been lost. Grateful that justice has been serve. Hopeful that one day all shall be well .... Come, Lord Jesus. #Justice4Laquan


Mary Schmich, Metro columnist, Chicago Tribune

After the Jason Van Dyke verdict, a city exhales. But the problems aren’t over. Today's column, written after going this afternoon to Pulaski Rd., where Laquan McDonald was shot to death. 


Charlie Dates, Senior Pastor, Progressive Baptist Church, Bronzeville

I sat in the trial this week and felt up close the haunt of our justice system that could watch a video and deny its content. Grateful for some justice. We see through a glass darkly. Hopefully, this will inspire further justice for the broken. #JusticeForLaquan


Jahmal Cole, Founder, My Block, My Hood, My City

Laquan McDonald had experienced his first visit downtown a year before he was killed. Why downtown was out of reach for Laquan for so many years is unacceptable. What happened to him was devastating. The loss of his life and the circumstances of his death have left a deep wound.


photo credit: Skyler Gerald @skylergeraldphoto