Some Black Friday shoppers balk at Laquan McDonald protests on Mag Mile

28 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chicago deserves answers in Laquan McDonald shooting.

A judge’s order to release video of the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald led quickly to a first-degree murder charge against the officer — and the revelation that actually, there were at least five videos. CHICAGO —Protesters disrupted holiday gift shopping in downtown Chicago on Friday, marching up and down the city’s “Magnificent Mile” retail district, in the largest and most concentrated demonstration since the release of a video late Tuesday showing the shooting death of a black teenager by a white city police officer.Thousands of protesters blocked traffic and barred shoppers from entering stores during the Black Friday sales extravaganza to demand justice for a black teen killed by a Chicago police officer. The video showing the October 2014 slaying of Laquan McDonald, 17, by officer Jason Van Dyke, who was charged with first-degree murder this week, has stirred the protests.

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. 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.

As they have all week, protesters — frustrated by the fact that it has taken more than a year for Van Dyke to be charged — on Friday demanded the resignation of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and the assignment of a special prosecutor to take over the case from Cook County officials. 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. Why did it take 13 months to charge Van Dyke with a crime, given that the video — and an equally damning autopsy report — were in hand within days? Anderson, the pastor at Centennial Missionary Baptist Church on the city’s south side. “There has been an implicit cover-up from the top down.” The march moved north along Michigan Avenue through the downtown district’s collection of high-end retailers.

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. It is the lack of intervention or assistance from the other officers present that most clearly symbolizes the problem that plagues the Chicago Police Department and our city.

I’m Hispanic and I feel like them,” said Dante Franco, who with his family was stuck on Michigan Avenue, their gray minivan surrounded by a sea of marchers. 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. Sirens can be heard in the background, but there is no audio of police talking, no burst of gunfire as the officer empties his weapon and McDonald collapses and writhes in the street. 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. She wanted to stand up for McDonald because she feels like it could have been her or one of her friends shot 16 times and left to bleed out alone on the pavement. “We’re going to hold down these doors so nobody can buy anything, so nobody makes money until people understand how bad this is, how this is affecting Chicago,” Vazquez told AFP as she stood outside Cole Haan. “No one cares, clearly, they’re just walking by shopping.

One family, downtown from suburban Woodstock, Ill., to tend to their ill son at nearby Northwestern Memorial Hospital, stood on the curb and took pictures as if they were watching a parade. “After seeing the video, I’m not surprised they’re marching,” said Steve McCoy. Amid the many questions that must be asked and answered in the wake of this tragedy, perhaps the most important is this: Why was Van Dyke permitted to carry a badge and a gun?

After almost an hour of holding the intersection, the marchers reversed course and moved southbound, taking to the sidewalks as they barricaded entrances to stores like Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom, the Apple Store and Disney, not allowing shoppers inside and, in some cases, not allowing shoppers out. 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.

A Saks Fifth Avenue store redirected shoppers to an employee entrance in the back of the building where salespeople guided them up stairs, through back storerooms and onto the showroom floor. With the rain and the protests, there seemed to be less foot traffic than on a normal Black Friday, said John Curran, vice president of the Magnificent Mile Association, which represents 780 businesses on North Michigan Avenue.

A sidewalk saxophonist blew his horn, people stood on grassy medians to take pictures and frustrated tourists made their way down the middle of the street after being forced off sidewalks. In April, the city’s top attorney told aldermen that the evidence was so damning, they needed to approve a $5 million settlement to McDonald’s family to pre-empt a lawsuit. Especially since city officials continued to withhold the video, in clear violation of the state open records law, until a judge ordered them to release it.

We don’t know the nature or scope of that investigation; we do know the feds have a formidable track record for prosecuting wrongdoing that other agencies have dismissed or discounted.

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