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Protesters Rally In Loop, Demanding Federal Civil Rights Charges Against Former CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke In Death Of Laquan McDonald

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Dozens of protesters rallied in the Loop on Thursday afternoon, venting their frustration over former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke's release from prison after serving less than four years behind bars for the murder of Laquan McDonald.

Activists and some members of McDonald's family gathered outside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Thursday afternoon, demanding federal prosecutors file civil rights charges against Van Dyke, who was released from prison earlier in the day, after completing his sentence early on state charges of second-degree murder and aggravated battery.

The protesters first showed up at the courthouse around 3 p.m., arriving to deliver a letter to the U.S. Attorney's office, demanding federal charges against Van Dyke now that he is out of prison.

A representative from U.S. Attorney John Lausch's office met with a group of protesters in the courthouse lobby, and accepted their letter. A spokesperson declined to comment on their demands.

McDonald's grandmother, Tracie Hunter, said even though Van Dyke has completed his sentence, justice has not been served.

"It's just crazy how the system is. It's so messed up. It don't make no sense. Instead of everybody coming together and seeing federal charges against this man, they don't have a heart, and they don't care, the way I feel about it," Hunter said.

CBS 2's Megan Hickey reported Rev. Jesse Jackson also requested an in-person meeting with Lausch regarding the call for federal charges against Van Dyke, and a representative of the U.S. Attorney's office said they would try to facilitate that.

While Van Dyke is out of prison, CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller says he not back to his old life.

"He's far from being what you would call a free person from the penitentiary," Miller said.

Van Dyke now starts mandatory parole for the next two years. He can't leave the State of Illinois without permission, and he can't buy or have a gun or return to law enforcement.

"Never, ever - because he has been convicted of a felony," Miller said.

We know federal investigators lead the probe into Van Dyke after the fatal shooting in 2014 - but the results weren't released.

Miller and other legal experts have said it's unlikely federal prosecutors will step in at this point, after Van Dyke has already completed his sentence on state charges.

"He got such a light sentence in state court - and that's why people aren't happy," Miller said. "Should that be a reason to charge somebody federally? I have problems with that."

It's not clear if federal prosecutors would step in after this much time has passed. But the group calling for it won't stop demanding that they do.

"When it all boils down to it, it's wrong," Hunter said. "It's wrong, it's wrong, it's wrong."

After delivering their letter, protesters eventually made their way into the street on Dearborn, but police restricted their movement.

A group of about 50 protesters marched into the street on Dearborn Street between Jackson Boulevard and Adams Street, shouting at police officers who were monitoring the protest. They blocked traffic for about 10 minutes before going back on the sidewalk outside the courthouse, and returning to the street a few minutes later after stalled cars had gone through and police had set up a temporary detour.

At one point, protesters surrounded a Chicago Police squad car in the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and Dearborn Street, before quickly clearing a path for the SUV to leave.

Officers on foot and on bicycles continued to monitor the scene, and police appeared to outnumber protesters as activists lingered in the street, chanting "16 shots and a coverup" and "no justice, no peace."

While protesters were frequently shouting profanities at officers, the protest has been peaceful, and traffic in the Loop has been mostly unaffected, as Chicago Police have set up temporary detours to avoid the protest on Dearborn between Jackson and Adams.

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