CHICAGO — A big protest is planned for one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Hundreds are expected to march from the Tribune Tower to Water Tower Place in response to the Laquan McDonald shooting.
“I would like to see Michigan Avenue stores take a big hit tomorrow business-wise, and people are going to say, ‘How can you say that? It impacts the whole city?’ So does murder,” said Fr. Michael Pfleger, one of the leaders of Friday’s protests.
Protestors have taken to the streets the past few days demanding changes in the Chicago Police Department all in response to the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. He was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer now charged with murder.
“You can’t keep asking people to trust the system if the system isn’t working,” Pfleger said.
So far demonstrations have been mostly peaceful though Wednesday night a handful of people did cause problem. Four people were arrested. Organizers are is hoping for a peaceful demonstration Friday, but one that will disrupt shopping
“Boycott these stores. I think people will not come downtown if there is a huge demonstration down here,” Pfleger said.
Darnetta Jackson, who works on the Mag Mile, said the protest will affect the number of people coming downtown.
“It will. I believe so,” she said. “It was a big impact yesterday like they blocked off the whole street.”
The protest has already changed Rosemary Simmons’ shopping plans. Instead of spending money on the Mag Mile, the Simmons family is heading for the deals in the suburbs.
“Maybe we’ll come back in on Saturday, you know, be very, very busy, and some protestors will march so we will avoid along here tomorrow,” said Rosemary Simmons.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has asked members to join Pfleger, some politicians and other community leaders in Friday’s protests. Additionally, CTU paid for Thursday night robocalls featuring Jesse Jackson Sr. and CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey to encourage people to attend the protests. Some viewers told WGN they were upset the calls interrupted their Thanksgiving.
While shops usually have increased security on Black Friday, one Mag Mile store manager owner told WGN no additional security will be brought in due to the protests.
“The Chicago Police Department is committed to protecting first amendment rights. Our officers uphold that commitment with honor, and we will have the appropriate resources to support peaceful demonstrations, ” the CPD said in a statement.
The Magnificent Mile Association released the following statement about the planned protests:
“The Magnificent Mile Association represents the interests of employees and businesses in the famous North Michigan Avenue District of Chicago. We respect the American freedom to assemble and the process in the pursuit of social justice. We hope that any assembly on Friday will continue to be peaceful.”