In an effort to show both the power of their economic freedom while calling for a Justice Department probe into the shooting death of a Black teenager by a White police officer, Chicago protesters planned a large demonstration on the city’s Magnificent Mile to disrupt the Black Friday holiday.
Protesters have consistently and peacefully protested the death of Laquan McDonald — a 17-year-old who was fatally shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke last year — since the 400 day-delayed release of an edited video showing the graphic killing. The footage was released, against the city’s wishes, only after a journalist submitted a Freedom of Information Act request.
Van Dyke, 37, was charged with first-degree murder earlier this week. He is being held without bond, NBC News reports.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said the march up Michigan Avenue on Black Friday — generally considered the busiest shopping day of the year — would focus attention on Chicago and the issue of racism in the police department.
“It’s not enough to focus on what brought us here today — the execution of this young man,” Jackson said Wednesday. “That takes the scab off a deeper sore, a deeper cancer,” he said. “We want mass demonstrations, mass voter registration.”
Friday’s demonstrations will highlight protesters’ other demands, including the resignation of the police commissioner. Activists are also asking for a federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department, much like the one conducted in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of Michael Brown Jr. at the hands of a White police officer. That investigation found a number of racial biases within the department and the court system.
“We believe CPD officers have engaged in the systemic use of excessive force and carried out a pattern of discriminatory harassment against African American residents in the city,” Chicago Urban League Interim President Shari Runner said in a statement. “Furthermore, they have been dishonest about those practices, in some cases even covering up illegal activity.
But even after the week-long protests and the recent release of four more dashcam videos showing what else happened that night in October 2014 (the four newly released videos do not show the shooting), Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has no plans to resign.
“Since I got here, I’ve been talking about changing the culture of the Chicago Police Department in a positive fashion. There are some very good things about the Chicago Police Department that I found when I got here,” McCarthy said this week. “We’re building on those, and we’re trying to revamp anything that’s negative.”
We’ll keep you updated with the latest on Black Out Friday protests across the nation.