Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter movements clash over proposed bill

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CHICAGO -- The outcry over the police killing of Paul O’Neal continues.

Protesters took to the streets today, bringing their message of police reform to one of the city’s most powerful politicians, to the ward office of long-time Alderman Ed Burke, who is pushing for a controversial new bill that would make an attack on a cop a hate crime. Police reform activists view that as a needless provocation during a time of high tension.

More than 50 people attended a rally on the South Side to demand police reform one day after the release of police video showing the confrontation that led to the killing of 18-year-old O’Neal, an unarmed black man who died of a gunshot wound to the back.  Police say O’Neal had been suspected of stealing a car.

O’Neal’s death struck a chord with 19-year-old Nicholas Meekins, who says he’s afraid of the police.

“I’m just tired of what’s going on, and I’m here to fight for my people. I’m here to fight for myself,” Meekins said.

Ja’mal Green is a spokesman for the O’neal family. He says the killing has reopened wounds in the city that were beginning to heal after the Laquan McDonald scandal.

“One step forward, and we always take 10 steps back,” Green said. He led a march several blocks to the office of Ald. Burke.

This is what Ald. Burke recently told WGN News about police-community relations:

“I would suggest to you that we’re all in this together. This is our city. This is where we’ve grown up. This is where we raised our families, this is where we earned our livelihoods.  It’s too big to fail, too great a city to fail, and we need all of us to pull together and pull the wagon in the same direction.”

But since then Burke has proposed an ordinance that activists say is creating division.

"They created Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter to combat what we’re saying, all we’re saying is we want our life to matter," Green said. "All we’re saying is we want our lives to be invested in."

Burke is pushing a so-called "Blue Lives Matter" bill, which would make an attack on police officer a hate crime, and carry stiff penalties.

Some protesters see a false equivalency between the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew out of a community that feels it is under constant threat, and the Blue Lives Matter, which is a slogan used to support police.

More protests are planned this weekend. Activists say they’ll meet in Millennium Park tomorrow evening for a rally.

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