Protesters march against lack of indictment

By Copy Chief

At first glance, the crowd gathered on the corner of East Jackson and South State streets on Dec. 4 could have been mistaken for a rush-hour pedestrian traffic jam. However, the shouts over the loudspeaker of “Black lives matter” quickly confirmed it was the scene of a protest.

The group of 100-plus people congregated in the heart of a Thursday rush hour to protest the lack of indictment in the case of Eric Garner, a man who died after a New York City Police Department officer placed him in a choke hold to restrain him. A grand jury voted not to indict the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, sparking protests and cries of racism because Garner was black and Pantaleo is white.

The ruling comes less than a week after the lack of indictment of Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, a black teen who was shot Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Missouri. Thousands in cities nationwide marched to protest the shooting in August and again in November to protest the lack of indictment.

“No justice, no peace—no racist police,” the crowd chanted as they began to march south on State Street through downtown Chicago, accompanied by police on bicycles, on foot and in cars. The police officers attempted to form a line to herd the march away from the major traffic vein at each intersection the crowd crossed. Harried commuters honked in frustration as the crowd, now at least 200, walked across the intersections, bypassing the police lines.

The chill of the night did not deter spectators from taking photos from the sidewalks as the protesters passed. The police raced ahead and gathered enough backup to direct the line onto East 11th Street, finally boxing them in before they entered Michigan Avenue. Protesters surged up onto fire hydrants and fences, shouting at the police officers to let them through, chanting “We can’t breathe, we can’t breathe,” the phrase associated with the Garner case.

The police did not budge. One protester approached an officer on the corner and calmly asked, “May I cross the street, please? This is peaceful. All I want to do is cross the street.” After a brief discussion, the officer let him through and he crossed to the front, taking a video of the crowd and shouting, “This is peaceful. Is this democracy?”

The protesters backtracked and continued marching another way for the next several hours, ranging from the University of Illinois at Chicago campus on West Roosevelt Road to Lake Shore Drive on the east, shutting down the main artery for north-south traffic in the city.

Most of the protesters carried handmade signs, but many bore the same phrase: “Ferguson is everywhere.”