From the time Laquan McDonald was shot by police Officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014, issues surrounding the public’s right to know, in real time whenever possible, have been front and center. It took months for the dashcam video of Van Dyke shooting McDonald finally to come to light.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel released the video only after a court ordered him to do so in late 2015, months after Emanuel was safely re-elected.
When people finally did see the video, the images were sickening. McDonald was moving away from Van Dyke when the 13-year police veteran took his first shot. Van Dyke kept pumping bullets into McDonald, 16 shots in all.
Emanuel was right to fear the video’s power. Even today, the images may be potent enough to jeopardize his next re-election, in 2019.
Truth does emerge. And standing in its way often does no good.
David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.
Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.
Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.