2015: Protesting for Change

Posted December 1, 2015

Chicago Protests Shut Down Biggest Shopping Day of the Year

Many gathered in Chicago to protest the killing of Laquan McDonald by a police officer and demand that city officials deal with gun violence in Chicago.

Many gathered in Chicago to protest the killing of Laquan McDonald by a police officer and demand that city officials deal with gun violence in Chicago.

CHICAGO – Throughout 2015, protesters have taken to the streets across America demanding justice for those killed by police. Black Lives Matter activists and others have tried to call attention to cases of police profiling and discrimination against Blacks. They point to cases in New York; Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore and now Chicago where police have used excessive and deadly force against Black males.
On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, protesters marched on Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile’’ the upscale section of Michigan Ave., demanding the resignations of the city’s top leaders, over the yearlong cover-up of a police video showing an officer’s killing of teenager Laquan McDonald.
McDonald was shot in October 2014 by Jason Van Dyke who pumped McDonald with all 16 bullets from his gun. The video showed McDonald turned away from officers when Van Dyke arrived on the scene and began firing.

Protesters locked arms outside the doors of major retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Tiffany & Co., preventing shoppers from entering. To exit stores, shoppers often knocked on the glass doors and asked protesters to allow them out. Police blocked vehicles from driving down the usually traffic heavy street.
Demonstrators could be seen on tv news coverage chanting “Stop the cover-up!” and “16 shots! 16 shots!” which was the number of times the officer fired upon McDonald.
“We’re tired of this police cover-up and the state’s attorney’s cover-up,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Catholic priest in Chicago. “People are mad here in Chicago.” Activists also demanded a federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department.
Within days of the protest Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked for the resignation of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
“Superintendent McCarthy knows that a police officer is only as effective as when he has the trust of those he serves,” said Emanuel, speaking at City Hall.
The mayor went on to describe a new task force on law enforcement accountability that will review how the city trains and oversees its police officers. It will include five Chicagoans who have been leaders in the justice system. Chicago native and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will be a senior adviser to the group, Emanuel said.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she sent a letter to the U.S. attorney general asking the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to open an investigation into the Chicago Police Department to see whether its practices violate the Constitution and federal law.
“Trust in the Chicago Police Department is broken,” Madigan said in a statement. “Chicago cannot move ahead and rebuild trust between the police and the community without an outside, independent investigation into its police department to improve policing practices.”
Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald, has been charged with first-degree murder. However, he walked out of jail on bond after a judge set his bail at $1.5 million. He is suspended from the Chicago Police Department.
The video showing McDonald turning his back to police before being riddled with bullets, was released after a freelance journalist filed suit, arguing that the video was public record. The city went to court to prevent its being released, arguing that doing so would interfere with a federal investigation and a probe by the state’s attorney. A judge sided with the journalist, and the footage was released.
Over the same holiday weekend, an online threat caused fear in the city when a man allegedly said he would shoot white men to avenge McDonald’s death.
Jabari Dean, 21, was arrested and accused of threatening to kill students and staff at the University of Chicago.
According to a criminal complaint, Dean posted the threat on social media.
Dean allegedly posted this: “This is my only warning. At 10 a.m. on Monday mourning (sic) I am going to the campus quad of the University of Chicago. I will be armed with a (sic) M-4 Carbine and 2 Desert Eagles all fully loaded. I will execute aproximately (sic) 16 white male students and or staff, which is the same number of time (sic) Mcdonald (sic) was killed. I then will die killing any number of white policemen that I can in the process. This is not a joke. I am to do my part to rid the world of the white devils. I expect you to do the same.”
Dean is charged with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce. He is facing up to five years in prison but was released from a federal jail and into his mother’s custody.
The 21-year-old student at the University of Illinois at Chicago was ordered held on house arrest but will be able to leave his South Side home for school. He also can attend religious services, seek health care or do anything related to the federal case.
Magistrate Judge Susan Cox also prohibited him from using the Internet.