The Rogers Park community joined in the global protests over the death of George Floyd as hundreds of protesters filled North Sheridan Road from Lunt Avenue to Touhy Avenue June 3.
What began as a crowd of about 30 people — and nearly as many police officers — quickly grew into hundreds as Honk for Justice Chicago kicked off its second day of protests in Rogers Park.
Honk for Justice Chicago is a new series of “pop-up” protests where demonstrators stand on the sides of streets while holding signs as cars pass by and honk.
Before protestors occupied the sides of North Sheridan Road, one of the Protest’s organizers, Jocelyn Prince — a Rogers Park resident and lifelong community organizer who formerly worked for the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton presidential campaigns — read off instructions as protestors chanted them back at her.
Part of her instructions singled in on an issue that has plagued cities after peaceful protests have ended: looting and vandalism.
“Obviously there’s been some vandalism in the city,” Prince, 41, said. “We’re not about that. I don’t think that’s a good way to express yourself. … I don’t want to see them destroying my neighborhood.”
Rogers Park suffered from some looting and vandalism during the civil unrest that followed several days of peaceful protests, with some businesses taking precautionary measures to protect their storefronts.
The first Honk for Justice Chicago gathering took place in West Town — the part of Chicago where one of the demonstration’s organizers, Madison Kamp, lives.
Kamp said some people have been focusing on the property destruction rather than the issue protestors are fighting against despite them not playing a part in the protests. She said this inspired her and Prince to organize the demonstration.
“It’s hard to see people continually being angry about looting and rioting when they’re not participating in peaceful protests,” Kamp, 27, said. “So we decided to give people an opportunity to peacefully protest.”
Aiko Rose, another Rogers Park resident, saw the protest outside his front window and said he got emotional when he saw the size of the crowd along North Sheridan Road.
“I was pretty moved, I thought I was going to cry upstairs when I saw everybody,” Rose, 24, said. “I couldn’t believe everybody from this neighborhood would come out like this. … I’m glad to see something’s changing and that people are seeing eye to eye on certain things.”
The night before Rogers Park had its first protest, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a number of police reforms to be enacted in the next 90 days in response to the demonstrations.
In addition to this — shortly before the Rogers Park protest commenced — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced charges against the three officers who were with former officer Derek Chauvin when Floyd was killed and raised one of Chauvin’s charges from third to second-degree murder.
Having charges brought against the other officers on the scene as well as escalated charges against Chauvin have been some of the demands of global protesters, but Rose said it was just the “bare minimum.”
“We’re so lenient and we’re so used to it that we think the bare minimum is some sort of achievement,” Rose said. “It’s better than nothing but they need to be held accountable. … They killed someone, it’s not that hard to understand.”
The protest was also a first for some attendees. Seth Felling, a Rogers Park resident, attended a protest for the first time by showing up to the demonstration.
“We are part of the gay community and we are big supporters of any minority group,” Felling, 25, said. “If you’re part of a marginalized group, any benefits or rights you’ve experienced you need to pass on.”