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Coalition of 100 Black Pastors Call for Special Prosecutor In Laquan McDonald Case: 'We Feel Disenfranchised'

( [email protected] ) Dec 04, 2015 12:18 PM EST
As questions continue to swirl around the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald, a coalition of 100 clergy members and activists representing Chicago's black community have called on Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the case.
Demonstators hold their hands up in front of Chicago Police officers during protest of last year's shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white policeman and the city's handling of the case in the downtown shopping district of Chicago, Illinois, November 27, 2015. Reuters

As questions continue to swirl around the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald, a coalition of 100 clergy members and activists representing Chicago's black community have called on Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the case.

CBS News reports that Bishop James Dukes, of the Liberation Christian Center in West Englewood, and other ministers questioned whether Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel would have been re-elected had the video of the 17-year-old's death not been hidden until last week when Officer James Van Dyke was charged with the teen's murder.

"Many of us have stood in support of him [Emanuel]. What was his involvement? And we feel disenfranchised, and we feel that we've been led astray," he said, explaining that many pastors feel betrayed by the mayor after he sought their support for re-election while at the same time he was fighting efforts to release the McDonald video.

Bishop Larry Trotter, who endorsed Emanuel for re-election this year, concurred that the African American community feels insulted by the city's handling of the McDonald case.

"Too many people in office have ignored the fact that black people have an insult level as well," he said. "Our insult level can only go so far, and we are there now."

Because of this, the ministers and their supporters are asking Gov. Rauner to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the McDonald case and are calling for the firing of every officer involved in the shooting. However, the governor's office said Rauner has no authority to appoint a special prosecutor. 

"There is a process for the appointment of a special prosecutor by judges in the county where an incident occurs and a conflict exists. The Governor has no such authority under Illinois law, which is consistent with how most special prosecutor laws work," Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in an email.

Meanwhile, a separate report from CBS News notes that heightened racial tension following McDonald's death was the topic of discussion at the annual Chicago Leadership Prayer Breakfast, which was attended by some of the state's leading politicians, business leaders, and clergy.

"Profound racism continues to plague our society. It's reflected not just in who is detained or incarcerated, but who is shot and killed by the police on our streets," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. "I've lived in Chicago for 50 years. I've always believed that the police could shoot and kill people with impunity."

She also charged that a prayer breakfast is a perfect time for a call to action to deal with issues of race, violence and class.

"The mayor and others have been critical of people in the black and brown community for not coming forward when terrible things happen; yet we have to be equally critical of the police who, when bad things happen, cover-up [and] perjure themselves. We are surely in a time of crisis," she said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner agreed that Chicago is facing a crisis and contended that some of the most important elements to restoring that faith are prayer, communication, and coming together to find solutions.

"This breakfast is occurring at one of the most important times in the history of Chicago," he said. "We also have a breakdown today, a tragic breakdown, in the institution of public safety; a lack of faith and a lack of trust. It is the most essential element for it to function."