The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) and the Pride Action Tank stand in solidarity with the family of Laquan McDonald and the protesters who are sacrificing their bodies to ensure that we do not return to business as usual after seeing the horrific video of McDonald being killed by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
The slow journey to justice for Laquan McDonald and his family is disgraceful and has its underpinnings in institutionalized racism — the same societal ill that accounts for the overrepresentation of blacks in various disease categories, including HIV. Blacks make up 50% of new HIV infections. Nearly all of the more than 20,000 Chicago Public School students who experienced homelessness last year were youth of color. A national response must be implemented to address the intersectionality of these issues and help eradicate the racism that fosters them.
AFC and the Pride Action Tank work with some of the most ignored people in society — people living with and vulnerable to HIV and related chronic diseases and LGBTQ people. Our work requires an intersectional approach that embraces the impact of race, gender identity, economic level, and more. We recognize that real reforms in policing, education, health care access, housing, jobs and so much more are critical to improving health outcomes and creating thriving communities.
AFC and the Pride Action Tank call on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council to improve training for police, review all police records for patterns of abuse, and take stronger action against the small number of police who are accountable for the most alleged abuses. We are committed to transforming systems, policies and resources so that there is no doubt that #BlackLivesMatter.
We encourage people to join efforts to ensure that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Join the protests, raise your voices on social media and find other ways to stand in solidarity with McDonald's family. We also encourage you to attend the #BlackLivesMatter Conference: HIV, Stigma and Violence organized by AFC and partners on World AIDS Day, Tuesday, Dec. 1, in Chicago. Learn more and register at www.aidschicago.org/blacklivesmatter.