Laquan McDonald's grandmother among those arrested during Jason Van Dyke protest in Chicago

Nine people were arrested during a protest against the release of former Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke.

Among those arrested included Laquan McDonald’s grandmother.

McDonald was fatally shot 16 times by Van Dyke in 2014.

Demonstrators held a protest Thursday outside the Federal Dirksen Building. The arrests occurred when the group entered the building.

The demonstrators are now being called the 'Laquan 9.' Those nine demonstrators are due back in court on Tuesday.

"What I thought about was the ‘Little Rock 9.’ The nine students who fought to integrate the school system and that spirit, especially with it being Black History Month, was the inspiration with us calling us the ‘Laquan 9,'" activist William Calloway said. "This was the first time for me and the first time for all us that we saw organizers and activists arrested by US Marshals for civil disobedience to raise awareness to police misconduct and injustice."


Activists say they will continue to speak out until Van Dyke is federally charged with a hate crime.

"We are willing to sacrifice our freedom in the name of justice. And whatever we have to do to continue this message, whatever we have to do peaceably to get our message heard and to get justice for Laquan McDonald, that’s what we are willing to do," Calloway said.

Van Dyke’s conviction made him the first Chicago officer in about half a century to be found guilty of murder for an on-duty killing. But local organizations argued that his sentence and subsequent early release for good behavior was another sign of inequity in the criminal justice system.

"We have to set the standard," said Ja’Mal Green, a former mayoral candidate who was among those arrested. "We need federal charges so that other officers understand that if you be like Jason Van Dyke, you will be prosecuted on a state level and a federal level."

The NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, on Tuesday also urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to bring federal civil rights charges against Van Dyke in McDonald’s death.

The Department of Justice did not comment this week on the written request addressed to Garland. Messages seeking comment from the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago on Friday weren’t immediately returned.

Civil rights charges filed against law enforcement officers are rare, largely because prosecutors must prove that they willfully violated an alleged victim’s civil rights. That’s a higher bar than an accident, negligence or poor judgment.

One high-profile example began last month in Minnesota, where three former Minneapolis officers who were with Derek Chauvin during the arrest that led to George Floyd’s killing are accused of violating Floyd’s civil rights by failing to step in.

Kina Collins, who is running for the Illinois congressional seat long held by Democrat Rep. Danny Davis, was among those arrested Thursday. On Friday, Collins referenced national Democrats’ public shows of support for Black Lives Matter and other protest movements and said Van Dyke’s release was an opportunity for them to take genuine action.

"Vice President Kamala Harris, President Joe Biden ... Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, we want y’all all to come out," Collins said. "Because in 2020, Black folks in this country did not make an excuse. We showed up to the polls. Now we’re asking you to show up for us."

Associated Press contributed to this report.