Chicago (CBS) — Community activists said the “groundbreaking” guilty verdict at Jason Van Dyke’s trial is “a starting point” to holding police officers accountable for wrongdoing. Van Dyke was convicted by a Cook County jury of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.
Jedidiah Brown was overjoyed outside the Cook County Courthouse.
“A black life has finally mattered,” Brown said. “And once again I want to thank, just like the defense did, I want to thank the twelve jurors for seeing the pain of the community, for seeing every single shot and making the right decision and locking Jason Van Dyke up.”
In addition to the crowds outside the courthouse, an estimated 200 were marching outside city hall Friday afternoon.
Zebediah Anderson spoke with CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley on LaSalle Street. He was content with the guilty verdict but was hoping for a first degree murder conviction.
“I think it’s not necessarily the verdict that everyone would have dreamed of,” Anderson said. “I think it is a verdict that is good. It’s suitable for now – a starting point to holding the system and those cops that are out doing wrong accountable.”
Anderson described the ruling as “groundbreaking”.
“We want to build from that momentum to make sure that this is not just happenstance but that this continues to be the standard for CPD and cops all around America,” he said.
Brown said he hopes the case will send a message to Chicago police.
“Let it be a message to every Chicago police officer – do your job the right way or you can join your partner.”
Following the verdict, demonstrators downtown took the streets to celebrate the guilty verdict. CBS 2’s Brad Edwards spoke with Jasmine, one of the organizers for the demonstrations.
“We’re celebrating our victory but we’re also demanding control of the police through CPAC,” Jasmine said.