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Photos: Activists Filled The Streets Of The Loop Again To Demand Police Accountability

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 12, 2016 2:33PM

Demonstrators marched through the Loop for the fifth day in a row Monday over the extra-judicial executions of people of color by police. Hundreds began to gather in Millennium Park in the afternoon for a sit-in, and with the crowd later swelling to well more than a thousand people, marched to Federal Plaza to join other demonstrators who are calling for an elected civilian police accountability board.

Police told Chicagoist there was one arrest made at the sit-in, but charges are pending and they could not provide details.

“We called this demonstration in front of the Department of Justice because today it stands tall as the department of injustice,” said Frank Chapman of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. “We’re not asking, we’re demanding that those cops who cold bloodily murdered Alton and Philando be brought to justice.”

This latest series of protests comes in the wake of more killings of people of color by police around the U.S., including Alton Sterling, a Baton Rouge man, and Philando Castile, a Minneapolis man. Graphic and disturbing video of both instances went viral on social media last week.

In addition to demanding justice for people of color killed by police and an elected civilian accountability board in Chicago, demonstrators also decried the proposed “blue lives matter” ordinance proposed by Ald. Ed Burke in City Council a few weeks ago, which would give hate crimes protections to police officers and other first responders. Those opposed to the measure, which was moved to committee, say that existing laws already afford cops and first responders with extra protections, and it would severely impact people demanding police accountability.

“We are fighting to make sure that never leaves committee,” said Rachel, a member of the Black Youth Project 100 who did not provide her last name, who also participated in Monday’s demonstrations. “The simple fact that we can bump into them and be charged with assault already shows that there’s protection for the police. We have never fought this hard, but suppressing the fight for our equal rights and for the rights of people to hold the police system accountable, what does that tell us?”

The afternoon demonstration, which began in Wrigley Square in Millennium Park, was organized by four young women of color who had never before organized a protest. Demonstrators, the majority of them youth of color, sat silently in the grass for long periods of time, with a smattering speeches, poetry and chants peppering the two-hour long action.

“I read about this type of injustice in history books, never thinking I’d be on the frontline of my generation’s own civil rights movement,” said Eva Lewis, a seventeen year-old organizer of the demonstration. “Seeing history repeat itself has been awfully discouraging, but I have faith in the power of youth coming together in the face of adversary. We have to stop being content, and start being actively unsatisfied with the way things are. We have to keep saying Black Lives Matter, because society has shown it thinks otherwise."

After rallying in Federal Plaza, demonstrators marched through the Loop again, chanting, “black lives what? Black lives matter!” and “hands up, don’t shoot,” staging several sit-ins in major intersections when police attempted to block their march from crossing to the north side of the River. Demonstrators were allowed to pass after a brief stand off, with bystanders cheering and clapping support and stuck drivers honking and high-fiving protesters as they passed.

The main demonstration concluded back in Millennium Park with hundreds chanting the words of Assata Shakur.