Activists mark Laquan McDonald’s 21st birthday as trial continues for police officer who killed him

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On Tuesday, Laquan McDonald’s 21st birthday was marked with a march to Chicago’s Cook County Courthouse, Aljazeera.com, reports.

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Activists and protestors chanted “Slave catchers, KKK, killer cops of today,” and sung “Happy Birthday” in remembrance of McDonald as the police officer Jason Van Dyke stands trial for shooting the teenager to death.

“Our statement today is that [McDonald’s] life matters,” Reverend Marshall Hatch, told Al Jazeera. “If his life doesn’t matter, anybody’s life does not matter.”

“His life has been meaningful,” Hatch said.

Van Dyke faces six counts of first-degree murder, 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm and one count of official misconduct. McDonald was shot 16 times, but Van Dyke earlier this week claimed that only one of his bullets

Van Dyke’s Trial

Earlier this week, during the trial, the defense team tried to minimize the hail of bullets that took the teen’s life.

Dr. Shaku Teas, a forensic pathologist, claimed, according to the Chicago Sun-Times,  that the shot that tore through McDonald’s heart was the fatal shot while the other 15 that riddle his body were “totally immaterial.”

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“It is my opinion that this is the one that caused Laquan to die so rapidly,” Teas said. Her testimony sought to establish that only the first few shots killed McDonald, while the others should essentially not be taken into consideration.

Last week, Cook County Medical Examiner Ponni Arunkumar testified for the prosecution that each of the 16 wounds McDonald suffered contributed to the blood loss that killed him. Teas also claimed that McDonald was in the “process of dying” at the scene, even though he was still breathing and had a pulse when paramedics arrived.

The trial is in its second week, but some who attend the vigil don’t believe justice will be served.

“We personally don’t expect justice, the young people that I’ve been working with and speaking to,” youth activist and hip-hop artist Jessica Disu told reporters. “This courthouse has not shown us justice.”