Video of Laquan McDonald’s murder spawns mass shooting threat at University of Chicago

by Jonathan Huang staff writer

Last Monday, Nov. 30, following an online threat of a shooting at the University of Chicago, Hyde Park businesses and schools shut down due to safety concerns.

“Based on the FBI’s assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country, we have decided in consultation with federal and local law enforcement officials, to exercise caution by canceling all classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus through midnight on Monday,” said President Robert J. Zimmer in a written statement released Sunday evening, Nov. 29.

Jabari Dean, a 21-year-old electrical engineering student, was arrested at 10:25 Monday morning for vowing to “execute” white male students and staff on the campus quad. He appeared before the federal court for a bond hearing on Dec. 1.

Despite the threat mentioning three guns, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tobara Richardson told the judge Dean did not have the means to carry out his threat following a police search of the young man’s apartment. Dean was released under house arrest in the custody of his mother, and under the condition that he would submit to a mental health evaluation and stay off the internet.

The threat followed the long-awaited release of a video containing the fatal shooting of a black teenager at the hands of a white Chicago police officer. Dean vowed to exact retribution for each of the sixteen bullets that riddled Laquan McDonald: “I will execute aproximately (sic) 16 white male students and or staff, which is the same number of time (sic) Mcdonald (sic) was killed.”

Although the shooting took place last year, 13 months passed from the time Officer Jason Van Dyke shot McDonald to death until a video of the incident was released on November 19. The video’s release incited prayer vigils and protests, most notably observed on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile during Black Friday. Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has called for the resignation of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Emanuel praised McCarthy’s work but said that his dismissal is part of an effort to bridge the gap of mistrust between the public and law enforcement. “Superintendent McCarthy knows that a police officer is only as effective as when he has the trust of those he serves,” he said.


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