Photos: At Least 5 Protesters Arrested After Laquan McDonald Shooting Video Release

By aaroncynic in News on Nov 25, 2015 3:30PM

Hundreds of protesters marched around Chicago's near South Side and the Loop Tuesday night in response to the release of a disturbing video of a Chicago police officer shooting 16 bullets into a black teenager. Police arrested at least five protesters, including one whom they accused of striking an on-duty police officer in the Loop.

The protester, 22-year-old Malcom London, has been charged with one felony count of aggravated battery to a police officer, police said in a statement. He was arrested in the 100 block of East Balbo Drive at about 7:25 p.m. Tuesday, where protesters were marching at the time. The officer was treated with non-life-threatening injuries and released.

Demonstrators dispute police’s claims and the charges, and have said London was targeted by police for being one of many vocal organizers of the demonstrations. Just prior to his arrest, London was standing in the street with other demonstrators when police quickly swarmed into the crowd and grabbed him.

At a press conference this morning where aldermen from the Chicago Black Caucus called for the resignation of Police Chief Garry McCarthy, alderman Roderick Sawyer, like many witness at the demonstration, said London was arrested on "trumped up charges." "He needs to be released today, so that he can continue this activism," Sawyer said, according to DNAinfo.

Demonstrators began marching shortly after 6:00 p.m., and chants of “16 shots,” “we hear the shots - bang - the police are a gang,” and more were heard wherever they went.

The protesters halted traffic at one point on I-290 around midnight, and around the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road earlier in the evening. They shut down several intersections in the course of the more than 7 hour long march that snaked through the loop, often counting to 16, referencing the number of times disgraced officer Jason Van Dyke reportedly shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014, first as the teen fled from him and then moments later as he fell to the ground critically injured.

At least four other protesters were arrested for resisting police and blocking traffic—a citation for which they were released later in the night —and one was charged with possession of a deadly weapon, according to police. Those arrests happened during a run-in with police officers near Grant Park, and protesters later marched from Grant Park to the 1st District police station in response.

The activists called for an end to police misconduct and racial profiling and an overhaul in the way the police department and state's attorney's office investigates wrongdoing. They also called for the divestment in police funding and an investment in programs and initiatives that address the root causes of crime in neighborhoods.

“The police take up 40 percent of the city’s budget while Rahm Emanuel closes schools, while our children don’t have day care, while our people don’t have a living wage,” they chanted during a “mic check” in front of the District 1 police station on 18th and state, where several arrestees were being held. “We want a living wage, affordable housing, quality public schools, the demilitarization of the police… restorative justice programs, health care for all.”

Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday morning.

Just ahead of the release of the video of the shooting, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Chief Garry McCarthy asked for protests to be peaceful. Emanuel's remarks to the press suggested the video's release could be a "healing" process for Chicagoans—a statement that some activists are already criticizing as tone-deaf and trivializing of the entrenched problem of police misconduct and excessive use of force, particularly when it comes to young black men.

"It was disgusting to try to claim any sense of moral superiority at this moment," a protester, 26-year-old Page May, told the Tribune. "They're out there trying to do damage control. How are they going to hold accountable a system that allowed this to happen in the first place?"

***UPDATE: 2:05 p.m.:

Felony charges against London were dropped after a short bond hearing at 26th and California. Chicago journalist Yana Kunichoff reports that dozens of supporters, which included many who attended last night's demonstrations as well as members of the Chicago Black Caucus, celebrated outside, chanting "I believe that we will win."