The Van Dyke Verdict Is Only The Beginning Of Racial Justice
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Politics and Activism

Jason Van Dyke's Conviction Is Only The First Step For Police Accountability

While it may be a time to celebrate, it is not a time to let up.


On July 27, 1919, a group of white boys in Chicago drowned an African-American boy for swimming in the wrong part of a South Side beach. On August 5, 1966, Martin Luther King was attacked with stone and debris while marching in Chicago's Marquette Park. Given Chicago's ugly history of race relations, no one saw coming what would transpire on October 5, 2018: the conviction of a white police officer for murdering a black teenager.

I remember the shock I felt when I heard those words come down: "Guilty...guilty....guilty." The four-year-long struggle had finally culminated into something positive. After toppling a police superintendent, a state's attorney, and even a mayor, the fight to give Laquan McDonald and his family justice has ended in victory.

But while Van Dyke's conviction is most certainly something to be thrilled about, it should be the foundation of a bigger movement to hold other officers accountable for executing black people in the streets.

Jason Van Dyke now being locked up is not going to bring back Laquan McDonald and it never will. With that being said, this verdict shows the repercussions of such emotionally distressing cases. Therefore, one of the major takeaways we should get from watching this case unfold is the renewed call to reopen mental health clinics in the city's most blighted neighborhoods. People commit crimes, but we never figure out why they do so. Were they mentally ill? Were they trying to protect their family? These questions can be answered by funding mental health facilities that can curb the erratic behavior.

Next, now that we have justice for Laquan, when will we find justice for Tamir Rice, whose killer just got a new job at an Ohio police department? When will we find justice for now-household names like Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown? If Laquan McDonald's case has been any indicator, it's going to take quite some time.

Lastly, it's just as important to know that with the midterms coming up, voting alone is not going to solve this problem. The United States is governed by a system that systematically demonizes people of color and gives excuses to white men including the newly inducted Supreme Court Justice. Voting alone is ineffective, but coupling that with getting out in the streets isn't. It is my hope that the shock that we all felt when we heard Van Dyke is guilty reminds us that this verdict is only the start of what will hopefully be a more equitable criminal justice system.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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