Chicago protests triggered by police shooting persist on Black Friday

28 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Protest over Chicago teen’s shooting ties up retail district.

CHICAGO – Demonstrators angry about the killing of a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a white police officer last year marched through the streets and disrupted Black Friday shopping in Chicago’s ritziest retail district. Despite a cold, drizzling rain, hundreds of demonstrators turned out to protest Friday, the traditional beginning of the holiday shopping season along Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile. Activists chanting “16 shots! 16 shots!” stopped traffic for blocks for up to an hour, expressing their anger over the Oct. 20, 2014, killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald and the subsequent investigation that they say was mishandled. Organizers said the rally would be a show of outrage over the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, 17, and what they see as racial bias in U.S. policing.

Facing a court-issued deadline, police on Tuesday released dashcam video of the teen’s death, only hours after prosecutors charged the officer who repeatedly shot him, Jason Van Dyke, with first-degree murder. Among the marchers was 73-year-old Frank Chapman of Chicago, who said the disturbing video confirms what activists have said for years about Chicago police brutality. “That needs to end.

Too many have already died,” said Chapman, whose organization, the Chicago Alliance Against Racism and Political Oppression, is pushing for an elected, civilian police accountability council. The shooting was a separate incident this month that garnered much attention because police said the boy appeared to have been killed in an act of retribution against his gang-member father. His attorney said Van Dyke feared for his life when he fired at McDonald and that the case should be tried in the courtroom, not in social media or on the streets. We’re not going to let windows get broken,” Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told reporters on Friday ahead of the rally, adding the protests have gone well, so far.

In recent days, there has been talk that marchers taking part in the Black Friday protest would engage in acts of civil disobedience, such as blocking store entrances to prevent shoppers from getting inside. Emergence of the tape had already sparked two nights of mostly peaceful and relatively small-scale demonstrations in the city, during which nine arrests were reported by police. But city officials have given no detailed explanation for why the footage came without any discernible audio that is supposed to be recorded with the video.

Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and prominent local activist, said he thinks the march itself will cost businesses money because the publicity surrounding it will discourage shoppers from even venturing into the area. A Facebook page posted by march organizers listed additional demands including the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate questionable circumstances in the case, and a special election to choose a new state’s attorney for the county.

The police have allowed protesters to march in the middle of the street and even hold rallies in the middle of intersections, and on Thursday the department said it would handle Friday’s march much the same way. They’ve also harshly criticized the department for its months-long effort to prevent the video from being released and the state’s attorney’s office for taking more than a year to file charges against the officer, despite having footage of the incident. The video released Tuesday shows McDonald jogging down a street and then veering away from Van Dyke and another officer who emerge from a police SUV drawing their guns.

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