Protesters shut down Chicago’s ‘Magnificent Mile’ in demonstrations over …

28 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Black Friday’ protest of police shooting shuts main Chicago shopping street.

CHICAGO (AP) — Hundreds of protesters blocked store entrances and shut down four lanes of traffic in Chicago’s ritziest shopping district on Black Friday to draw attention to the 2014 police killing of a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a white officer. Protesters make their way up North Michigan Avenue on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Chicago as community activists and labor leaders hold a demonstration billed as a “march for justice” in the wake of the release of video showing an officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Demonstrators shrugged off a cold drizzling rain to turn the traditional start of the holiday shopping season on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile into a high-profile platform from which to deliver their message: The killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was another example of what they say is the systemic disregard police show for the lives and rights of black people. The effect of the video’s release has been to show the high-tech killing of an African-American teenager on television screens throughout the country. Tensions flared in this Midwestern city after officials released a dashcam video on Tuesday showing officer Jason Van Dyke shot Laquan McDonald 16 times after the teenager walked away from him in October 2014.

About 2,000 protesters, some holding signs reading “Stop Police Terror” gathered in a cold drizzle for the march on Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile,” which closed the major city street of Michigan Avenue to traffic on the traditional “Black Friday” shopping day after the Thanksgiving holiday, Organizers said the rally, led by activist-politician the Rev. They chanted “16 shots! 16 shots!” and stopped traffic for blocks to express their anger over the Oct. 20, 2014, killing of McDonald and the subsequent investigation, which they say was mishandled. Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently suggested that police were in a “fetal” position — paralyzed and prevented from assertive action by the constant threat of being caught on video.

The graphic video is the latest in a string of police shootings caught on camera that have sparked mass — and sometimes violent — protests and engulfed the United States in a debate over racism and the use of deadly force by police. Jesse Jackson and several state elected officials, was a show of outrage over the October 2014 death of Laquan McDonald, 17, and what they see as racial bias in U.S. policing. Here in Chicago, along the stretch known as the Magnificent Mile, traffic snarled and was rerouted as shoppers stopped along the sidewalk, stared and took video with their phones. The black officer stood stone-faced and avoided Steverson’s gaze as he stood inches (centimeters) away, swearing and waving his hands as he accused the officer of guarding the wrong neighborhood and betraying his race. “I’ve lost too many little brothers,” he told AFP, then turned back to the police and said “I’m not a thug. It took the prosecutor 13 months to announce charges in the case on Tuesday and hours later, a graphic video of the shooting was released to comply with a court order.

Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that none of the other officers on the scene offered first aid or any other form of assistance to Laquan as his bullet-riddled body lay in the street. McDonald, who authorities allege was carrying a three-inch knife and was suspected of breaking into cars, spins around and falls to the pavement as Van Dyke keeps shooting. Among the marchers Friday 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.

In fact, this is the same police department that produced and protected Jon Burge, a white police detective and commander who tortured dozens of African-Americans. Rush marched in a blustery rain with a crowd that included a mix of ages and races. “A police officer is supposed to protect us,” said Deborah Lindsey, 66. “This was just shooting a child — and 16 times?

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. In the end, Burge was convicted on two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury — not for the crimes he committed under color of the law. That’s just wrong.” There were moments of confusion as entrances were locked at one point at Water Tower Place, a glassy indoor mall, and shoppers were told they could not enter. And no one cares that somebody’s dead, that other kids have been shot and nobody’s doing anything.” Jeyifous, 41, is a research scientist at the University of Chicago.

Emergence of the police patrol car dashboard camera video of McDonald’s shooting had already sparked two nights of mostly peaceful and relatively small-scale demonstrations in the city, during which nine arrests were reported by police. There are many more questions that must be answered in order to seize the moment created by McDonald’s killing and begin to heal the rift between police and communities of color: 1. Organizers also called for the ouster of anyone else found to be involved in misconduct surrounding the case, and the “demilitarization” of the Chicago Police Department. His attorney said Van Dyke feared for his life when he fired at McDonald and that the case should be tried in an actual courtroom, not the court of public opinion.

Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and prominent local activist, said he thought Friday’s protest would cost businesses money because the publicity surrounding it would discourage shoppers from even venturing into the area. Chicago officials had sought to keep the video private while a federal investigation continued, but released it after being ordered to do so by a county judge. 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. Given Chicago’s track record of protecting even the most egregious wrongdoers in its Police Department, the most effective and appropriate vehicle to get to the truth in this matter is a special prosecutor.

The march was set to begin near the Chicago River and proceed north over three hours to the Water Tower, a route that would pass large malls and retail storefronts including Neiman Marcus, Burberry and the Apple Store. As the march entered its second hour, protesters linked arms to block the entrances to Saks Fifth Avenue, Ralph Lauren and other Michigan Avenue storefronts. “There will be no commerce today,” one demonstrator said over a bullhorn. A Macy’s store official carrying a walkie-talkie said he was “working on a strategy.” One woman carrying shopping bags through the Godiva chocolate section of the store said: “If they want to protest, they should have a memorial for him. But this is ridiculous.” She declined to give her name. “I think they have a lot of legitimate right to protest,” he said. “There is a long history of racism in this country.

Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site