Hundreds of protesters marched along the Magnificent Mile Friday, working to block shoppers from stores and demanding more changes to the criminal justice system, a move coming after Chicago police fatally shot three people within the last seven days.
The protest started at 10 a.m. the Water Tower monument at Chicago and Michigan avenues. More than 500 people indicated through Facebook that they were going to the protest, but about half the number showed up, resulting in a demonstration that was smaller than last year’s.
The protest in part was aimed at denouncing the city’s implementation of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, COPA, instead of a version preferred by protesters. That alternative watchdog, dubbed the Civilian Police Accountability Council, would be made up of members elected by the public.
Protesters chanted a familiar refrain Friday, “Rahm Emanuel has got to go,” and held up signs asking for CPAC, calling the mayor’s version “a sham.”
The protest was relatively peaceful, with some scuffles breaking out between demonstrators and police. Just before noon, protesters linked arms around the Crate & Barrel store on Michigan Avenue in an attempt to prevent shoppers from heading in or out. Initially, protesters refused to disperse but then moved along to other stores, including Apple, Nike and Neiman Marcus.
Some protesters said they were pleased that Cook County has a new prosecutor to replace State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez but they want more.
“We consider those to be victories, but . . . not one police officer has been . . . jailed,” said Frank Chapman, one of the protest organizers.
“The boogeyman is no longer under your children’s bed,” said another protester, Eric Russell. “The boogeyman wears a blue uniform and carries a badge.”
Chicago Police were spread out along Michigan Avenue, and some shoppers were less than thrilled with the protest march.
“Bulls—,” said shopper Kathy Ahillen, 64, of Barrington. “Oh come on, these people don’t even know what they want. I refuse to ruin my day by not coming down here because these people are here!”
Maureen Dugan, 77, of Lake Forest, was on the Magnificent Mile to buy a silver Irish shamrock for her granddaughter’s confirmation.
“They are so ridiculous . . . The election is over. Respect the office of the president,” Dugan said, clutching her Tiffany bag.
Other shoppers defended the protesters.
“It’s the right of every American,” said Tom Kettrell, 51, visiting from Utah. “It may be disruptive, but it’s the right of every American to peacefully protest.”