On one of the busiest U.S. retail days, a rally is planned for Chicago’s most prestigious downtown shopping district to protest last year’s shooting death of a black teenager by a white policeman and the city’s handling of the case.
The march on Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile” on the Black Friday shopping day was organized by activist-politician Jesse Jackson and several state elected officials.
Organizers said the rally would be a show of outrage over the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, 17, and what they see as racial bias in U.S. policing.
Hours before the rally planned for 11 a.m. local time, Chicago police said they made an arrest in the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee. The shooting was a separate incident this month that garnered much attention because police said the boy appeared to have been killed in an act of retribution against his gang-member father.
The planned downtown Chicago demonstration comes three days after police, acting under a court order, released graphic footage from a dashboard-mounted video camera that captured the Oct. 20, 2014 shooting death of McDonald.
The police officer who shot McDonald 16 times, Jason Van Dyke, 37, was charged with first-degree murder hours before the tape was made public on Tuesday.
Emergence of the tape sparked two nights of mostly peaceful and relatively small-scale demonstrations in the city, during which nine arrests were reported by police. Despite calls on social media for protesters to turn out for Chicago’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday, no rallies materialized.
Critics of the police department and Cook County prosecutors have questioned why it took investigators 13 months to bring charges in the case and to release the video. Several more videos from additional squad cars were released on Wednesday and Thursday under open-records requests by the media.
But city officials have given no detailed explanation for why the footage came without any discernible audio that is supposed to be recorded with the video.
African-American members of the City Council have repeatedly called for the resignation of city Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.
In a statement on Thursday endorsing the planned Unity March & Rally in Memory of Laquan McDonald, the Chicago Teachers Union called for Cook County’s chief prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, to step down as well.
A Facebook page posted by march organizers listed additional demands including the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate questionable circumstances in the case, and a special election to choose a new state’s attorney for the county.
Organizers also called for the ouster of anyone else found to be involved in misconduct surrounding the case, and the “demilitarization” of the Chicago Police Department.
“We have watched in anger and disappointment as the city has covered up police violence,” teachers union Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. He accused Mayor Rahm Emanuel of delaying release of the videos during his campaign for re-election, which he won in April.
Emanuel and other officials said they delayed making the tapes public to avoid tainting the investigation of Van Dyke.
(Writing by Steve Gorman and Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)