Saturday, November 28, 2015

Anger Over Killing by Police Halts Shopping in Chicago
New York Times
NOV. 27, 2015

Protesters gathered on Chicago’s main shopping streets Friday to disrupt the shopping frenzy and draw attention to what they say is police brutality

CHICAGO — Hundreds of demonstrators on Friday marched down the middle of North Michigan Avenue, the city’s premier downtown shopping district, forcing the police to close the six-lane thoroughfare to vehicles and prompting some businesses to lock their doors for at least part of one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

A mix of ages and races, the protesters marched up and down the avenue, known here as the Magnificent Mile, for several hours, calling for justice in the shooting death of a black teenager by a white Chicago police officer.

“Sixteen shots! Thirteen months!” they chanted, about the number of bullet wounds in the teenager, Laquan McDonald, and the length of time it took to bring charges this week against the officer. The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Representatives Danny K. Davis and Bobby L. Rush marched with the crowd as rain fell and a blustery wind swept through.

Groups demonstrated Friday in other cities, including Seattle, Minneapolis and New York, linking their protests over police conduct and the treatment of black people to a day when the nation’s focus is usually on the Black Friday shopping frenzy.

Protesters on Michigan Avenue tied up Chicago’s major retail district on one of the busiest shopping days to draw attention to the police killing of Laquan McDonald. Credit Andrew Nelles/Reuters
Here, demonstrators said it was time for all Chicagoans — including those who shop at high-end stores like Burberry, Tiffany & Company and Coach along Michigan Avenue — to think deeply about the death of Mr. McDonald, 17, who was shot on a neighborhood street, even after he lay on the ground.

“A police officer is supposed to protect us,” said Deborah Lindsey, 66, a resident of the city’s South Side, as she stood in the middle of Michigan Avenue. “This was just shooting a child — and 16 times? That’s just wrong.”

On Tuesday prosecutors charged Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago police officer, in the 2014 shooting, only hours before the city, on orders from a county judge, released a graphic police dashboard camera video of the killing.

Coming on the heels of street demonstrations that stretched late into the night here on Tuesday and Wednesday, the protest upended shopping. Some protesters linked arms and stood at the entrances of businesses, like Apple and Levi’s, as tourists stood watching. At Water Tower Place, one of the city’s best-known downtown shopping malls, doors were blocked, at times, and by midafternoon security guards were turning shoppers away from the stores as police officers stood guard inside.

Some shoppers expressed frustration, others confusion. When Lorrie Frawley, an Ohio resident visiting family in Chicago, sought to enter the Loft clothing store along Michigan Avenue, demonstrators refused to budge and burst into a song that included the lyric, “You ain’t gonna shop today.” Ms. Frawley turned away but said she did not understand how stopping her from shopping addressed concerns about policing.

“I’m glad that they’re doing a peaceful protest,” she said, “but it doesn’t really do what they want to do.”

Others were impatient. One woman carrying shopping bags through the Godiva chocolate section of a Macy’s in Water Tower Place said: “If they want to protest, they should have a memorial for him.

But this is ridiculous.” She declined to give her name.

The protests were largely peaceful, the authorities said. The Chicago police said at least three people had been arrested on misdemeanor charges. John Curran, a vice president of the Magnificent Mile Association, which represents the area’s retailers, said that protesters “definitely made an impact on our shopping day,” but that “all things considered, it went as well as could be expected.”

“It didn’t close the Mile by any stretch,” he said.

On Friday night, Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement thanking the police for their “professionalism in supporting these peaceful expressions of free speech” as well as local businesses and workers, who, the mayor said, showed patience. “The city of Chicago has always been, and will continue to be, committed to ensuring our residents are able to exercise their First Amendment rights,” he said. “We can bolster and respect the voices of the passionate and peaceful protesters, and recognize how important it is for us to move forward together toward solutions.”

In Minneapolis, demonstrators marched through the city’s skyway system and inside Macy’s and Target stores as they advocated a higher minimum wage and called for justice for Jamar Clark, 24, an unarmed black man killed by the police on Nov. 15.

In San Diego, Black Lives Matter activists gathered at the downtown courthouse to protest the use of force by the police, including a case in October in which Anthony Ashford, 29, was killed by police officers. From the courthouse, the protesters marched through downtown to a nearby mall, where they chanted outside a Nordstrom store.

In New York, dozens of protesters marched inside Macy’s and Chick-fil-A.

And demonstrators marched in downtown Seattle, chanting, “Black lives matter, not Black Friday,” inside Macy’s. Evana Enabulele said she attended that protest to speak out against police brutality. “I’m black,” she said, “and it could happen to my brother, to my sister, to my mother.”

“I’m tired as hell of having to convince people that I’m human,” Ms. Enabulele said. In Chicago, many voiced anger not just at Officer Van Dyke, but also at the city’s police superintendent, Garry F. McCarthy; the Cook County state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez; and Mayor Emanuel for not moving faster in the case and for refusing to release the police video of the shooting until this week.

A lawyer for Officer Van Dyke has said the officer believes he was justified in the shooting and will go to trial. He was afraid that his life was in jeopardy, the lawyer has said. Mr. McDonald was holding a three-inch folding knife.

Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who attended the march, said that the shooting raised questions about a “systemic problem” in Chicago of police killings of black people and that the delay in releasing the video necessitated an investigation.

“Was there an official cover-up?” Mr. Ramirez-Rosa asked. “If so, we need to ensure that there’s accountability and that there’s changes at the top.”

As the crowd moved north along Michigan from the Chicago Tribune Tower, past stores like Coach and Rolex, some chanted: “Rahm Emanuel lied! Rahm Emanuel lied!”

“It starts at the top,” said Marie Lewis, 46, of the South Shore neighborhood. “It starts at Rahm’s office.”

Reporting was contributed by Ian Lovett from Los Angeles; Emily Palmer from New York; Matt Furber from Minneapolis; Conor Dougherty from Oakland, Calif.; and Stacey Solie from Seattle.

No comments: