September 25, 2020, marks what would have been the 23rd birthday of Laquan McDonald, one of the many members of the Black community whose life was stripped away at the hands of the police. This one hits a little closer to home since he was born and raised in Chicago. He wasn’t deserving of the 16 shots and a coverup up and the excessive force used by former CPD officer Jason Van Dyke.
Instead of mourning the death that happened far too soon, people came together to celebrate McDonald’s life and to remember that his legacy still lives within us. William Calloway, a Chicago native, activist, and someone who fought for the dash camera footage of the fatal 2014 shooting to be released, created the idea for “Laquan’s Birthday Balloon Release & Reimagine FOP Contract Teach-In.” Not only was the life and legacy of McDonald celebrated by Calloway, but he also educated the audience about the FOP contract for the CPD and how it can be negatively affecting our communities. The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. was also on hand at the event, which was held at 71st and Chappell, to offer words to all those in attendance.
“I thought it was appropriate to have something on his birthday to celebrate his life,” said Calloway of why he put together the event.
It’s honestly heartbreaking that we have to celebrate McDonald’s birthday this way. He was only 17 when his life was mercilessly taken away from him. He didn’t have the chance to see much of life after high school. Unfortunately, is family and community didn’t get to see him grow up and reach his full potential.
happy birthday Laquan McDonald, we love you.
400 balloons, 1 for each day it took to find out what they did to you. pic.twitter.com/76DaxeweSd
— naira x 🇳🇬❄️ (@supernaira) September 26, 2020
Everyone is telling us and showing us that our lives don’t matter, but we can’t stop fighting until we show that they do. Van Dyke was charged for his crime but until every other officer who has taken away a Black life is held accountable for their actions, there’s still a fight to be fought. Happy heavenly birthday, Laquan. We haven’t forgotten about you. You still live on through all of us.
By Cierra Lemott, Freshman, Columbia College Chicago
Instagram & Snapchat: @cece.kodak