Saturday, November 28, 2015

Chicago #BlackLivesMatter Protesters Halt Black Friday Sales
Thousands have marched on Chicago's main shopping street, Michigan Avenue, to protest the killing of a black teen by a white police officer. The rally blocked shoppers on the US' biggest salesday, Black Friday.

At least 2,000 people gathered on Chicago's "Magnificent Mile" on Friday, blocking traffic and barring shoppers from entering stores. Organizers of the demonstration said the rally was a show of outrage against city's handling of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald on October 20, 2014, and what they regard as racial bias in US policing.

Protesters also called for the resignation of the police superintendent and a top Chicago prosecutor who they accuse of stalling the case.

Outrage over video footage

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with the murder of 17-year-old McDonald on Tuesday, 13 months after he allegedly shot the teenager 16 times.

Authorities initially said that McDonald, who was high on phencyclidine (PCP), lunged at Van Dyke while brandishing a knife. In a dash-cam video, released hours after Van Dyke was charged, however, McDonald can be seen walking away from the officer before his body strikes the pavement as he is shot.

The teenager lifts his head, moves an arm before at least one other gunshot appears to strike his chest.

The officer then walks into the shot and kicks a knife away from McDonald's hand. If convicted, the 37-year-old officer could face 20 years to life in prison.

Nationwide debate

The footage is the latest in a string of police shootings caught on camera that have sparked mass protests across the US over the use of deadly force by police against minorities.

McDonald's death has also been likened to that of Michael Brown - the black teenager also shot dead by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in August last year. Brown's case sparked 15 months of demonstrations nationwide.

Protestors in nearby St. Louis successfully shut down a shopping mall last BlackFriday by engaging in something called a "die-in," which saw hundreds of people laying down on the floor in protest.

ksb/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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