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Protesters march peacefully a day after fatal police shooting of Harith Augustus

Demonstrators hold their fists in the air during a moment of silence outside the barbershop where Augustus worked in the South Shore neighborhood. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

A few dozen peaceful demonstrators returned Sunday afternoon to the scene of the fatal police-involved shooting of 37-year-old Harith Augustus, which had sparked community anger and violent clashes the day before between police and protesters in the South Shore neighborhood.

The group met about 5 p.m. near 71st Street and Chappel, decrying the violence in their community. A group of mothers whose sons were killed by police shared their stories and called for justice before marching through the neighborhood.

Panzy Edwards — the mother of Dakota Bright, a 15-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a Chicago Police officer in 2012 in the Park Manor neighborhood — held back tears while bemoaning that the officer was still working for the force after a police oversight office ruled the shooting of her son was unjustified.

In the most contentious episode of the evening, CPD officers blocked protesters from marching onto Lake Shore Drive. After a tense few minutes, demonstrators headed west on 67th Street and ultimately circled back to where the march started.

Police and protesters confront one another the day after the shooting of Harith Augustus on July 15, 2018. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times
Police and protesters confront one another the day after the shooting of Harith Augustus on July 15, 2018. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

Calls for the ouster of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson highlighted the march, which ended shortly after a moment of silence at the barber shop where Augustus worked.

About 24 hours earlier, the sudden police shooting of Augustus came as officers saw him “exhibiting characteristics of an armed person” in the 2000 block of East 71st Street, according to CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

When police tried to question him, a “confrontation” ensued and an officer fired shots that struck Augustus multiple times in his body, authorities said. Augustus, who lived in the neighborhood, was taken to Jackson Park Hospital and pronounced dead about 20 minutes later.

Mere minutes after the shooting, a large crowd gathered around the scene. Police hit protesters with batons as glass bottles — including at least one filled with urine — flew their way.

On Sunday afternoon, police released video from the body camera of the officer who fired the shots that killed Augustus. A handgun can be seen in a holster in his waistband.

Source; Chicago Police Department

Many of the same demonstrators Sunday evening had been at the scene on Saturday.

Malcolm London, a musician and activist associated with Black Youth Project 100, said he suffered bruises to his body and an injured toe during Saturday’s clashes with police.

“We were brutalized and beat up for simply standing on the street,” London said, calling Augustus’ death a “tragedy.”

The day after the shooting, he pushed for substantive reforms to the CPD, noting that his group wants “community-controlled policing.”

Malcolm London protests Sunday near the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting in the South Shore neighborhood. | Tom Schuba/Sun-Times
Malcolm London protests Sunday near the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting in the South Shore neighborhood. | Tom Schuba/Sun-Times

Michelle Williams, who lives in South Shore, said she had to duck into a restaurant in the strip mall when Saturday’s protest turned violent.

“The police surrounded this place and if they caught them they beat them,” Williams said. “It was just terrible what they were doing to those people.”

Sunday’s crowd dispersed soon after returning to the shooting scene, leaving peacefully aside from a few small confrontations between protesters and police. No one was arrested.

Video by Marcus DiPaola and Nader Issa