'Black Friday' Protest of Police Shooting Shuts Main Chicago Shopping Street
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Thousands of people marched on Chicago's most prestigious shopping street on Friday, disrupting business on one of the busiest US retail days, to protest the shooting death of a black teenager by a white policeman and the city's handling of the case.
About 2,000 protesters, some holding signs reading "Stop Police Terror" gathered in a cold drizzle for the march on Chicago's "Magnificent Mile," which closed the major city street of Michigan Avenue to traffic on the traditional "Black Friday" shopping day after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Organizers said the rally, led by activist-politician the Rev. Jesse Jackson and several state elected officials, was a show of outrage over the October 2014 death of Laquan McDonald, 17, and what they see as racial bias in US policing.
Protesters also called for the resignation of the police superintendent and a top prosecutor for what they see as foot-dragging and stonewalling in the case. It took the prosecutor 13 months to announce charges in the case on Tuesday and hours later, a graphic video of the shooting was released to comply with a court order.
"It's unconscionable that the police officer who killed Laquan McDonald was able to sit at a desk for over a year and draw a paycheck," said James Hinton, 49, who joined the march holding a sign that read: "13 months, 16 shots," Reuters reported.
The protesters chanted "Stop the cover up, 16 shots," as they marched along Michigan Avenue.
Shoppers on the second and third floors of a Crate & Barrel could be seen lining up along windows taking pictures with their phones of throngs of protesters in the streets.
Groups of protesters locked arms to temporarily keep shoppers out of a few stores, but there were no major disruptions.
"The protesters did take over the street for sometime today blocking stores but it seems to have been a safe experience thus far," said John Curran, a vice-president of marketing for The Magnificent Mile Association.
"In commerce terms you can think of this as a snow day. There is going to be a loss of revenue today and we plan to make that up during the rest of the holiday season.”
Emergence of the police patrol car dashboard camera video of McDonald's shooting had already sparked two nights of mostly peaceful and relatively small-scale demonstrations in the city, during which nine arrests were reported by police.