A day after thousands helped shut down Michigan Avenue to shoppers on Black Friday, a small group of community activists circled City Hall Saturday afternoon with an empty black casket to pay respects to both Laquan McDonald and Tyshawn Lee.
But the symbolic casket also was intended to point a finger at three city officials the group blames for mishandling police misconduct cases in the city: Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
And the chorus of voices calling for McCarthy grew louder late this week; on Friday, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle called Emanuel and asked for McCarthy’s resignation, according to Preckwinkle spokesman Frank Shuftan.
The protesters who marched on City Hall on Saturday included Tio Hardiman, president of Violence Interrupters.
“Laquan McDonald’s blood is spilling all over City Hall,” Hardiman said before the group carried the casket and chanted, “How many more must die?”
Hardiman, who was not at the Michigan Avenue protests, said Emanuel, McCarthy and Alvarez all must go for their treatment of police misconduct and shooting cases.
“City Hall is where [the casket] needs to be because this is where the cover up took place,” Hardiman said.
Tio Hardiman outside City Hall Saturday / Tina Sfondeles
Hardiman had harsh words for McCarthy: “McCarthy’s spirit is not right. The man is a cancer. He’s an Adolf Hitler type of guy,” adding McCarthy’s programs in black communities are putting people “under siege.”
On Friday, after announcing charges against Corey Morgan in 9-year-old Tyshawn’s gruesome murder, McCarthy said he has no plans to resign.
Hardiman urged unity in the black community. He said only the unity of the masses will force the resignations they demand, and that same unity also will stop the bloodshed on Chicago’s streets.
“Stop killing in our community first. Own and operate the businesses in our community first, then we won’t have to boycott nobody,” Hardiman said. “If there is no unity, we’re going to keep killing each other.”
A small group of community activists circled City Hall on Saturday afternoon with an empty black casket to pay respects to both Laquan McDonald and Tyshawn Lee. /Tina Sfondeles
The latest round of protests started on Tuesday, with the release of video from the dashboard camera of a Chicago Police vehicle, showing Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shooting 17-year-old McDonald.
Outside City Hall, activists placed the black casket on the ground as they held a moment of silence. They prayed for Tyshawn, the kid who was swept up in a gang feud that was out of his control.
Also on Saturday, four protesters were arrested after interfering with traffic on Michigan Avenue, Chicago police said.
Later Saturday afternoon, about 70 people gathered in Woodlawn to protest McDonald’s fatal shooting.
At about 3:30 p.m., the group marched south eight blocks down Cottage Grove Avenue, from the Green Line station at 63rd Street to the 3rd District police station at 71st Street, chanting: “16 shots and a cover up” and “Stop police crimes.”
McDonald was shot 16 times by Van Dyke, Cook County prosecutors said.
“This is where the problem is,” Frank Chapman, a Bridgeport resident who helped organize the march, said outside the station. “We don’t want to lose our focus. Our focus is on the way the police are policing our communities. This is a police station in a community that is occupied by the police, in a community that exists virtually under a police state, based on their behavior.”
Chapman, 73, said he began campaigning for a police accountability council of elected civilians following the death of Rekia Boyd, after she was shot by off-duty cop Dante Servin in 2012. Servin was acquitted after a bench trial, but McCarthy recently has moved to fire the officer.
William Preston and his wife, Brittany, brought their five children, ages 3 to 10, to march in Woodlawn.
“It’s all about educating them,” said Brittany Preston. “Teaching them what it means to be an African-American kid on the South Side of Chicago.”
The family, who live in Auburn-Gresham, also participated in Friday’s protests.
Before Saturday’s march, William Preston said if one of his children died violently, “I would’ve wanted everyone [who] could to stand up for them.”
William Preston, his wife, Brittany, and five kids marched Saturday down Cottage Grove Avenue in Woodlawn. | Patrick Judge/For the Sun-Times
Protesters gather outside the 3rd District police station in Woodlawn on Saturday afternoon. | Patrick Judge/For the Sun-Times