numbers – a slice of life and strife in Chicago and in America

In Chicago…

10-20-2014: the date Laquan McDonald was shot and killed on a Chicago street by police officer Jason Van Dyke

17: Laquan McDonald’s age at the time of his death

16: the shots fired by Officer Van Dyke

15: the seconds it took for 16 shots to be fired

30: the seconds Officer Van Dyke, accompanied by fellow police officers (8 or more), arrived on the site of the encounter

6: the seconds, after arrival, Officer Van Dyke began to fire his weapon

4: the length of the knife Laquan McDonald held in his hand

10: the distance in feet Laquan McDonald stood when walking away from the officers

5: in April, the millions of dollars in settlement the city of Chicago agreed to pay the McDonald family, although the family had yet to file a lawsuit of wrongful termination of life

400: the days between Officer Van Dyke’s encounter with Laquan McDonald and the court-ordered (“…by November 25”) release of the police car’s dashcam video of the shooting

1: the degree of murder with which Officer Van Dyke, upon turning himself in on Tuesday, November 24, was charged and held without bond

100s: the protestors on the streets of Chicago

In America…

countless: the police officers nationwide who perform their duties to protect their communities with the deepest respect for the people they serve and the highest regard for professional standards

countless: the people who believe that race is a demarcating line delineating acceptable law enforcement practices, and, given that, those who believe…

2: the unofficial, but no less real Americas that exist; one for white-folk and one for black-folk, and, given this obstinately abiding existential state of being…

0: American winners, and, given this truth…

321,605,012: (being the United States population) American losers

4 thoughts on “numbers – a slice of life and strife in Chicago and in America

  1. Paul,

    Though I’m not great in math, numbers don’t lie!! Thank you for putting this horrible story into perspective in such a powerful way! I read a few times yesterday and again this morning. It gave me chills each time.


  2. Thanks, Loretta. Seeming to reduce such a tragic moment in history (truly, sadly, replicated many times) to numbers grates against my compassionate sensibilities and sensitivities. However, the more I reflected on Laquan McDonald’s death, the more the swirl of numbers coursed through my consciousness, shouting at me to be set down in print. May we all measure with care how suddenly, swiftly a human life can be stilled. And may we all take careful note of how we, each and all, measure a human life. For God made us immeasurably equal and, sorrowfully, I believe that we tend to look at this one or that one or these people or those people through different eyes, assessing and denying their (and, therefore, our) fundamental equality. I weep for our human race


    • I felt I owed it to Laquan to read about his life that was taken in mere seconds. How tortuous it was in and out of foster care, but also about how he seemed to see his family as the social services folks who were in charge of him but also cared deeply for him as an individual. I smiled as I read about how they described his smile and laugh and his love for his grandmother.

      I’m grateful for the teachers at his “school of second chances” where he was always in school. I was devastated that on the last day of his life he was dealt yet another blow from this world as he and his sister were removed from his uncle’s care. I too weep for us because I fear we won’t ever learn to love our neighbors as ourselves.


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