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Protesters Shut Down Lake Shore Drive, Demand Police Accountability

Conor Merrick | The PhoenixProtesters shut down Lake Shore Drive Thursday in the midst of Lollapalooza and the Chicago Cubs game to draw attention to violence on the city's South and West Sides.

Protesters shut down the north and southbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive Thursday to call attention to police corruption and the lack of opportunity and violence on the South and West Sides of the city.

The turnout for the protest was said to be a couple hundred, the Chicago Tribune reported. Among the protesters were anti-violence organizations such as the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC). Protesters shut down Lake Shore Drive for approximately thirty minutes before marching to Wrigleyville. Leaders of the protest and representatives from CPAC suggested disrupting the Lollapalooza music festival and the Chicago Cubs game would draw the necessary attention to their agenda.

As marchers headed to Wrigley Field, they chanted, “Rahm Emanuel has got to go” as well as “16 shots and a cover up,” a reference to the Laquan McDonald police shooting on October 20, 2014. In the report of McDonald’s fatal shooting, Chicago Police said McDonald appeared aggressive and was armed with a knife. However, body camera footage released without audio contradicts police statements.

South and West siders have called for the resignation of Chief of Police Eddie Johnson, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Tom Tunney, who are all are believed to be involved in covering up the 2014 shooting of McDonald and are also criticized for not holding Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago Police officer who shot McDonald, accountable.

Tio Hardiman, who unsuccessfully ran for Illinois governor in March, was one of the three main organizers of the march. He said he wants to “redistribute the pain” felt on the West and South Sides by bringing their message to the North Side. He said he hopes this will create awareness for the individuals impacted by police violence and struggling to make ends meet in underdeveloped communities.

Many protesters carried signs of loved ones and friends lost to violence in their neighborhoods.

Hardiman elaborated on this point by calling attention to the five schools recently closed in the West Garfield neighborhood located on the West Side. West Garfield is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago and has a “third world life expectancy,” according to Hardiman.

“We’re tired and that’s why we’re here,” he said while addressing crowd.

CPAC has called for a redistribution of the $95 million dollars Emanuel has allocated for a new police academy. Some CPAC members said they believe the money would be better spent to develop impoverished areas and create new jobs in low-opportunity areas.

Residents of the area voiced their opinions as the protesters marched.

Sean Kelly, a resident of the Belmont area, suggested the police presence was excessive and “a total pony show.”

“They should be sending half these guys out to the West Side,”  Kelly said

Juan Garcel, a 2002 Loyola graduate, emphasized the importance of North Side residents listening to the protest’s message. He said police violence is statistically higher in African American and Latino communities and although blocking traffic and disrupting access to Lollapalooza and the Cubs game may not be ideal for many, it is a “necessary inconvenience.”

The protest was peaceful and no arrests were made.

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