Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders became the latest politician on Friday to call for a Department of Justice investigation into the Chicago Police Department. But the Democratic presidential candidate also went a step further, calling for any elected official who had knowledge of a cover-up in the release of the Laquan McDonald video to resign.
"I join with those calling for a federal investigation into the practices of the Chicago Police Department. Furthermore, any official who helped suppress the videotape of Laquan McDonald's murder should be held accountable. And any elected official with knowledge that the tape was being suppressed or improperly withheld should resign. No one should be shielded by power or position," Sanders said in a statement Friday.
McDonald, a 17-year-old black Chicago resident, was shot and killed by a white police officer in 2014. However, video footage of his death was released just last week after a judge ordered city officials to make it public. The video showed the police officer, Jason Van Dyke, shooting McDonald and leaving him to die in the street.
Just before the video’s release, Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder for the incident, marking the first time a Chicago police officer had been charged with that crime for an on-duty fatality in nearly 35 years, the Chicago Tribune reported.
In the wake of the video’s release, activists have been demonstrating in Chicago and asking the city’s officials to take more action on what many say is a culture of brutality in the local police department. Under the tenure of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Police Department has killed more civilians than any other police department in a large city.
Sanders joins rival Hillary Clinton and also a number of Illinois politicians, including Sen. Dick Durbin and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, in urging the DOJ to review the Chicago Police Department.
This is not the first time Sanders has gotten involved in Chicago's politics. This past spring, he campaigned for Emanuel’s rival in the city’s mayoral election, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
While Clinton is pushing for the DOJ to get involved in Chicago, she has stopped short of asking Emanuel to resign. “She knows Mayor Emanuel loves Chicago, and is sure he wants to do all he can to restore trust in the Chicago Police Department,” a statement from her campaign said, according to the Sun-Times.
If the Chicago Police Department does get investigated, it would be a pattern-or-practice inquiry, the Sun-Times reported. This would aim to discover and “reform serious patterns and practices of excessive force, biased policing and other unconstitutional practices by law enforcement,” according to the DOJ.
The civil inquiry would be separate from the joint federal and state investigation into the 2014 shooting of McDonald, which is still pending.