Hundreds of protesters on Friday, the year’s busiest shopping day, blocked traffic and access to stores along Chicago’s premier retail stretch.
Shouting “16 shots. It’s a cover-up,” they called for a broader US federal investigation to explain why it took authorities 13 months to indict a white police officer shown on videotape fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson and members of the Chicago Teachers Union led marchers along North Michigan Avenue three days after the release of police dashboard-camera footage that captured Officer Jason van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald even after he fell and lay crumpled on the ground. The city disclosed the video about seven hours after Cook County prosecutors charged Van Dyke, 37, with first-degree murder.
Protests that followed have been mostly peaceful, but demonstrators locked arms and blocked various entrances along a stretch of retail that includes about 460 stores, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s. At least three people were arrested, Chicago police said.
“We will show the city that we intend to disrupt its economic center as we call on people of good will to join us in our fight for justice for Laquan and other victims of questionable and unjust police shootings in our city,” Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said in a statement.
She urged the US Department of Justice “to widen its investigation into the McDonald case to identify anyone who participated in a cover-up of this murder for the past year.”
About two dozen protesters chanted “No iPhones today, No iPhones today” in front of an Apple store as shoppers tried to enter, only to discover the doors were locked.
In front of a nearby Disney store, Barbara Jones, 72, a black woman who lives on the city’s South Side, stood with about two dozen protesters, yelling “Shut it down, Shut it down.”
She said she was representing her family, including her three grandchildren.
“You know there are two Chicagos,” Jones said. “This is the one where they invest all our tax [US] dollars.”
Shortly after she spoke, employees locked the doors. They directed shoppers who wanted to leave out the back door.
The main business group for the shopping district said it does not track revenue numbers for its members so could not measure the impact of the protests.
“It has definitely had an effect on sales today, but difficult for us to determine how much at this time,” Magnificent Mile Association vice president of marketing John Curran said.
Dozens of protesters also blocked doors at Neiman Marcus, Saks and Tiffany & Co. Eight did so at the entrance to a Ralph Lauren store.
Todd Harlan, 50, a real-estate property manager from Dayton, Ohio, had hoped to get a jacket altered at the store. He said he and his family would return later.
“I cannot say that I disagree with anything that is going on,” Harlan said as protesters continued their march down the stretch of Michigan Avenue known as the Magnificent Mile.
Other shoppers walked with the protesters in order to make their way to their destinations. Bill Howard, 51, a professor from Macomb, Illinois, shopped in a Nike Store with his wife, in-laws and two daughters.
“It seemed to be pretty peaceful,” Howard said. “It did not deter us at all.”
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