Chicago Protesters Disrupt Black Friday to Demand Justice for Laquan McDonald
"Business as usual can’t go on while our children are dying."
Activists are marching throughout Chicago on Friday to protest the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald last year and the subsequent attempted cover-up of his death by city officials.
The protests, which began at 11:00am and are set to disrupt the retail bonanza of Black Friday in one of Chicago's biggest shopping districts, were organized after the release this week of a police dashcam video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, firing 16 shots at the black teenager as he tried to walk away.
Actions began at Michigan Ave. and Wacker Drive and are poised to continue through the "Magnificent Mile" shopping district to disrupt and boycott retail activity.
"How many more videos?" the protesters chanted as they marched.
Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, which endorsed the protests, said Thursday, "When we take to the streets on Friday we will show the city that we intend to disrupt its economic center as we call on people of good will to join us in our fight for justice for Laquan and other victims of questionable and unjust police shootings in our city."
"It is time to turn our pain into power," Lewis said. She encouraged CTU members to take part in the actions to "express their outrage and dignity."
Rev. Michael Pfleger, a pastor and prominent South Side activist, said Thursday that the actions will be "an opportunity for all of Chicago to come out, demonstrate their outrage and their anger in a nonviolent way, [and] interrupt the economic engine of Black Friday."
"If you really want to make a statement: Black Friday is coming up," Pfleger said. "The number one business day. Don't shop on Black Friday and go down to Michigan Avenue and sit down in the street and block the street on Michigan Avenue with civil disobedience peacefully, and say 'business as usual can’t go on while our children are dying.'"
Friday's actions follow two days of protests throughout Chicago after the graphic video was released to the public. Several activists were arrested Wednesday night during a peaceful march of about 100 people.
"Instead of responding in an open and understanding way to the wave of protest that has unfolded after the release of the video, we have seen the arrest of leading activists," Lewis continued. "We are alarmed at the criminalization of protest."
Rev. Jesse Jackson, who helped organize the actions, said in an interview last week, "We need a massive demonstration. And a massive quest for justice."
Van Dyke was charged with murder just hours before the tape was released to the public. Protesters say Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez attempted to prevent publication of the tape for more than 13 months.
Many activists are also calling for the resignation of city officials who say they intentionally mishandled the case in an attempt to cover up McDonald's death.
"We have watched in anger and disappointment as the city has covered up police violence," said CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey.