We won. Epically. Now we wait.

press conference crowd

Attorney Matt Topic, myself, and activist William Calloway answer questions from reporters at the Daley Center courthouse Nov. 19 after winning our lawsuit against the city. (Obscured is the other attorney on the case, Craig Futterman.) We sought the release of a video that allegedly shows police shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times on a Chicago street last year. Our suit accused the Chicago Police Department of using certain exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act without merit in withholding the video. Cook County Judge Franklin Valderrama ordered the city to release the footage by Nov. 25.

As this story is ongoing, please see my Twitter feed, @muckrakery, for the latest updates.

Speaking of Twitter, I’ll re-post here a few key items I’ve posted there since the ruling.


This weekend, Rahm Emanuel reached out to leaders in Chicago’s black community to try to get black activists to meet with him.

Some black activists undoubtedly will meet with Rahm; others say (via Facebook) that they will not. I don’t blame them.

One black activist says she’s insulted at the invitation, b/c she and others couldn’t previously get a meeting to discuss police brutality.

(I also re-tweeted a link to this well-researched article, “The Laquan McDonald video will not cause violent protests”)


“The conversation” that the video adds to? It’s the one underpinned by the work has done and continues.

(Responding to some rumors that some news organizations already have the video, either leaked or on embargo) Let’s put it this way: the city has to tell me when they release the video, because I’m the #$&@ plaintiff. I’ll let you know when I know.

It’s our responsibility as journalists to describe what’s really happening. Unvarnished. That’s not “objectivity” (a myth). Nearly opposite.

Perfunctory language, clinical language—like in statements issued by police—ends up obscuring reality. Videos set the record straight.

When policing is done in communities of color, it’s done much differently than in white communities. The data supports this unequivocally.

It’s easy for people in responsibly-policed communities to think “that happens over there.” To not advocate for reform. Folks need a shake.

These are our police. This is our government. We give them their power. And thus, they are ALL of our responsibility.

7 thoughts on “We won. Epically. Now we wait.

  1. Thank you for pushing for the release of the video. SOMEONE needs to search for the truth. Thank you, Sally Hackett from Detroit.

  2. Hello Mr. Smith. Great work!!! Rahm Emanuel would have been unelectable if he had not allegedly withheld the details of this murder. I am sure that you can prove it

  3. Get the Settlement Agreement. What is surprising to me is that Laquan McDonald’s mother and sister are completely unheard from. The Settlement Agreement provides for a structured settlement, which means that the payments are paid over time. It would be very interesting to see that document and understand how it may be structured to enforce the silence of Laquan McDonald’s family. I have no idea if it is available under the FOIA, but the citizens of Chicago, who are paying $5M, should be entitled to see the document. What could be so secret in it? Did the City Council see it?

  4. I would like you thank you for joining the movement and being an active fighter for civil rights. This is what all people should do but most don’t. Continue to fight and know that your work is appreciated but expected. Peace and love.

  5. Mr. Brandon Smith:


    You are so courageous.
    Always remember, never leave a penny on the table & you are the & :;#!@$ plaintiff of this case therefore the winner!

    Keep on winning.
    Maybe Rahm & Alvarez will step down, too.

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