Demonstrators Rally Against Police Brutality At Taste of Chicago And Beyond

By Chicagoist_Guest in News on Jul 10, 2016 4:40PM

By Aaron Cynic and Tyler LaRiviere

In the wake of two high-profile cases of police fatally shooting black men this week, hundreds of demonstrators marched through the Loop on Saturday demanding an end to police brutality and justice for people of color killed by police. Marches and rallies began early in the morning and continued through the late afternoon, converging for a time on the Taste of Chicago, before some protesters headed north to the Magnificent Mile, then south to Trump Tower.

Fourteen people were arrested during the demonstrations, police said: 12 for misdemeanors, and two for aggravated battery to a police officer. Activists reported that the arrests were conducted violently:

As of Sunday morning, all of those arrested for misdemeanors had been released, police said.

Some groups began rallying as early as 9:00 a.m. in Daley Plaza, with others gathering in Millennium Park around 1:30 p.m. By 4:00 p.m., hundreds were chanting “ou can’t stop the revolution,” and “no justice, no revenue” at the gates of the Taste.

“We are here because we are tired. We are fed up. We are dissatisfied with police brutality,” the crowd chanted outside the Taste of Chicago in a mic check led by Chicago activist Lamon Reccord. “We are dissatisfied with African Americans getting gunned down left to right by the police. Today is the day that we as people will fight back. We will fight this oppressive system that’s out to get rid of us to the police. You cannot kill us.”

“I want you to hug the person next to you and say, 'Your life matters,'" added Reccord.

The protests came in the wake of two fatal police shootings this past week. Philando Castile, a 32-year-old African American man in Minnesota, was shot and killed by police on Wednesday when complying with orders to produce identification. On Tuesday, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was killedin a parking lot outside a food mart, by Baton Rouge police responding to a call about an armed man. Graphic and disturbing video of both killings was posted on social media within hours of the men's deaths.

Demonstrators chose Taste of Chicago as one of their targets because of the high volume of foot traffic, and the potential to interrupt business as usual. After a standoff with officials, protesters were let into the festival one by one.

"Where else are you going to go and have this kind of impact and see this many people? Being black, I'm in total agreement with this," Cynthia Johnson-Lyles, who was attending the Taste before the protesters arrived, told the Chicago Tribune. "I appreciate the fact that it's peaceful and that people are taking an active role in change."

Targeting areas like the Loop and large events like the Taste is a way for protesters to feel heard by locals sheltered from many of the city's injustices by Chicago's notorious segregation.

“Why is there so much crime in our neighborhoods? Let’s look at the root of the problem. Let’s look at the fact that our neighborhoods have no economic development, no economic opportunities, no jobs. We are neglected. We are starved—all of our taxpayer money is going downtown,” activist Ja’Mal Green told the crowd at the Taste. “Let’s look at the fact that in these schools we’re taught basic education. Kids coming out of high school, they don’t know anything about credit, stock markets or bank accounts. They don’t know anything they should know. Let’s look at that fact.”

After departing the Taste, protesters headed north towards the Magnificent Mile, eventually ending up at Water Tower Place in the Gold Coast. The shopping center and area surrounding it have been frequent targets for demonstrators, who say the only way the city and other officials will listen is if business gets shut down.