Thou­sands protest against po­lice shoot­ing in Chicago

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

CHICAGO: Thou­sands of pro­test­ers blocked traf­fic and barred shop­pers from en­ter­ing stores dur­ing the Black Fri­day sales ex­trav­a­ganza to de­mand jus­tice for a black teen killed by a Chicago po­lice of­fi­cer. Ten­sions flared in this Mid­west­ern city af­ter of­fi­cials re­leased a dash­cam video on Tues­day show­ing of­fi­cer Ja­son Van Dyke shot Laquan McDon­ald 16 times af­ter the teenager walked away from him in Oct 2014.

The graphic video is the lat­est in a string of po­lice shoot­ings caught on cam­era that have sparked mass - and some­times vi­o­lent protests and en­gulfed the United States in a de­bate over racism and the use of deadly force by po­lice. “All they think we’re go­ing to do is grow up to be thugs,” Jared Stev­er­son, 27, shouted at a black po­lice of­fi­cer who stood guard out­side a shop on the city’s up­scale “Mag­nif­i­cent Mile” shop­ping strip. “It wasn’t about him fear­ing for his life, it was him not want­ing to see that boy live.”

The black of­fi­cer stood stone-faced and avoided Stev­er­son’s gaze as he stood cen­time­ters away, swear­ing and wav­ing his hands as he ac­cused the of­fi­cer of guard­ing the wrong neigh­bor­hood and be­tray­ing his race. “When you go home and put on clothes like me, you’re black and they’re go­ing to pull you over be­cause you’re just like me,” Stev­er­son shouted. He stepped away, and wiped tears from his eyes. “I’ve lost too many lit­tle broth­ers,” he told AFP, then turned back to the po­lice and said “I’m not a thug. I don’t sell drugs. I went to col­lege. You all ain’t got to treat us like dogs, man.”

‘No One Cares, Clearly’

Pros­e­cu­tors and city of­fi­cials have come un­der fire for wait­ing un­til a judge or­dered the release of the video to charge Van Dyke with mur­der. Sev­eral pro­test­ers held signs de­mand­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Chicago’s em­bat­tled po­lice chief and chanted “16 shots 13 months” to voice anger that it took so long to charge Van Dyke when there was clear ev­i­dence he was never threat­ened by McDon­ald. Po­lice had ini­tially said that McDon­ald, who was high on PCP, lunged at Van Dyke while bran­dish­ing a knife.

Pro­test­ers say the shoot­ing il­lus­trates deeper in­jus­tices both in Chicago and na­tion­wide. Many liken McDon­ald’s case to that of Michael Brown, the black teenager shot dead by a white po­lice­man in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri last year. His death trig­gered 15 months of some­times vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions over per­ceived po­lice bru­tal­ity against black men.

Sa­man­tha Vazquez, 18, joined those lock­ing their arms in front of stores to block shop­pers from the high-end shops on Michi­gan Av­enue. She wanted to stand up for McDon­ald be­cause she feels like it could have been her or one of her friends shot 16 times and left to bleed out alone on the pave­ment. “We’re go­ing to hold down th­ese doors so no­body can buy any­thing, so no­body makes money un­til peo­ple understand how bad this is, how this is af­fect­ing Chicago,”Vazquez told AFP as she stood out­side Cole Haan. “No one cares, clearly, they’re just walk­ing by shop­ping. And no one cares that some­body’s dead, that other kids have been shot and no­body’s do­ing any­thing.” Okunola Jey­i­fous and his wife Me­gan brought their ninemonth-old twins to the demonstration, brav­ing freez­ing rain. Jey­i­fous, 41, is a re­search sci­en­tist at the Univer­sity of Chicago. He said he feels that the color of his skin means he can­not trust the po­lice. And he wor­ries that his chil­dren could end up dy­ing on the street one day. “This is an im­por­tant mo­ment,” he told AFP. “I want them to live in a world and live in a so­ci­ety that val­ues them and in which they feel they have equal pro­tec­tion un­der the law.” — AFP

CHICAGO: Demon­stra­tors block mo­torists along Michi­gan Av­enue on Fri­day as they protest the shoot­ing of Laquan McDon­ald, who was killed by a Chicago po­lice of­fi­cer. — AFP

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