Laquan McDonald’s grandmother, Tracie Hunter, is calling out Reverend Marvin Hunter, demanding that he stop representing the family of the teenager who was shot 16 times by former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
Hunter and McDonald’s relatives have been at odds with Reverend Hunter, the teen’s great-uncle, who believes that federal charges should not be brought against Van Dyke. The ex-felon was released from prison February 3 after serving just over three years in prison for killing McDonald in 2014.
Tracie Hunter was among two dozen protesters at the Dirksen Federal Building, who were calling on U.S. Attorney John Lausch to bring federal charges against Van Dyke. Many believe Van Dyke violated McDonald’s civil rights when he shot him 16 times. Nine bullets went into McDonald’s back. Tracie Hunter was detained by U.S. Marshals, but was later released.
Reverend Hunter was not at the protest, where nine people were arrested, released, fined $200 and ordered to stay away from the federal building for 60 days.
At a recent press conference posted on Facebook, Tracie Hunter blasted Reverend Hunter, accusing him of doing an interview where he wanted Van Dyke to apologize to the family.
“I appreciate every effort that you did in standing up for the family, but please no more,” Tracie Hunter said. “I don’t want you to be the spokesperson for my family no more. No more because it’s too much. You’re a pastor, so why would you want him to apologize to the family? It ain’t nothing that man can be able to say to me or apologize to me for what he did to my grandson… so, no. Enough is enough.”
In an interview with Chicago’s WTTW, Reverend Hunter said federal charges should not be brought against Van Dyke at this point. He said officials should be focused on making systemic changes in the government and its laws.
At the press conference, Tracie Hunter disagreed.
“And the family is not seeking federal charges?! Yes, the family is seeking federal charges. I’d said it and I will say it again, you can’t serve two gods. I appreciate what you did. I applaud you… what you did, but enough is enough. I’m his grandmother. Let my voice be heard. Let the other mothers’ voice be heard about their kids, their grandkids. Whatever happens, I’m going to keep trying and trying and trying until this man gets convicted on federal charges. Joe Biden, you say you don’t do enough for the community. We’re here. We need you.”
Reverend Hunter did not respond to text and phone messages from the Crusader.
Reverend Hunter emerged as spokesperson in the news media for McDonald’s family since the video of teenager’s murder was released in 2015. He attended Van Dyke’s murder trial and said that Van Dyke’s 81-month sentence was “illegal” in a 2019 letter to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
On January 14, Reverend Hunter was notified by the authorities that Van Dyke would be released on February 3.
“I’m hoping he’s learned the errors of his ways. I have always asked for justice and not revenge,” Hunter said in the Chicago Sun- Times. “We got as much justice you could get with the players that were there at the time he was on trial. The system needs to be changed; it needs to be overhauled.”
While Reverend Hunter appears righteous as pastor of Grace Memorial Baptist Church on the West Side, for months he has alienated many of his supporters in Chicago’s Black community. Last September, many learned in news reports that Reverend Hunter sent a letter supporting Rahm Emanuel during his hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding his nomination for the ambassadorship to Japan. Emanuel eventually was confirmed for the post, and many believe Reverend Hunter’s letter sealed Emanuel’s victory.
At press conferences and on WVON, many Blacks questioned Reverend Hunter’s motives in supporting Emanuel and some accused the pastor of benefitting in some way after he wrote the letter.
Since then, Reverend Hunter has avoided interviews with Chicago’s Black Press, including the Chicago Crusader and WVON.
At a press conference on October 21, where Reverend Hunter said he “forgave” Van Dyke and believes in redemption, a security guard at his church barred a Crusader journalist from entering the building. The journalist questioned a security guard whom a protester accused of pushing her on the ground after Reverend Hunter took her “Justice for Laquan” sign down shortly before the press conference began.
Meanwhile, Tracie Hunter is emerging in more news reports as the family spokesperson and continues to demand federal charges be brought against Van Dyke.
“It’s a very hurt feeling because that man did not serve his time. He did not serve his time. The man took my first-born grandchild from me.”
The U.S. Justice Department remains silent as Van Dyke resumes his life as a free man. At the protest at the Dirksen Federal Building on February 3, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Father Michael Pfleger delivered a letter demanding that federal charges be brought against Van Dyke. Days earlier, Illinois U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, but sources told the Crusader they were pressured to demand charges be brought against Van Dyke.
Activists Will Calloway, Ja’mal Green and congressional candidate Kina Collins were among “The Laquan Nine,” who were arrested for protesting in the lobby of the Dirksen Federal Building. In a hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer said the group for more than an hour ignored a U.S. Marshals’ order to leave the courthouse lobby. Judge Pallmeyer said the group was also asked repeatedly to leave the building, but refused.
Though they were ordered to pay a $200 fine and stay away from the facility for two months, the group vows to continue protesting to get federal charges against Van Dyke.