Peaceful protest marks North Side rally, march Monday

“This one’s probably the most peaceful we’ve been to so far,” one attendee said. “Everybody’s trying to help each other.”

SHARE Peaceful protest marks North Side rally, march Monday
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Thousands of protesters peacefully occupy an Uptown intersection Monday.

Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

Thousands of protesters peacefully marched through North Side neighborhoods Monday evening, protesting against police brutality and gentrification.

As the crowd gathered at the Belmont Red Line stop to begin the march, chants of “I Can’t Breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” broke out among the demonstrators as cars drove past and honked in approval.

The rally comes in the wake of the death of George Floyd as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on top of him. It was the fourth evening of protests in Chicago and around the country.

The protesters walked to the Stewart School Lofts, 425 N. Kenmore Ave., a building organizers saw as a symbol for gentrification in the Uptown neighborhood. The building used to be the site of Stewart Elementary School, which was closed by Chicago Public Schools in 2013.

There, attendees took to the mic to tell personal stories of discrimination at the hand of police. Some handed out water and sandwiches while protesters took turns speaking out.

Jake Van Hoorn, 31, said he was hesitant to attend a protest after hearing about the use of force at some demonstrations and didn’t want to risk getting hurt because his wife is expecting a child. “But as the protests keep going I felt I had to come out here and do something,” he said. “I keep thinking about how if you come from a place of privilege it is your obligation to speak out and stand in support.”

After gathering outside the lofts, protesters were on the move again, briefly taking over Lake Shore Drive at Irving Park Road before marching toward Wrigley Field.

Ciara Scott, 20, who said she’s attended several protests in the past, including a few over the weekend, said she’s surprised by the amount of people mobilizing in the area but not by how peaceful the march was.

“This one’s probably the most peaceful we’ve been to so far,” she said. “Everybody’s trying to help each other; we’ve seen people with medical supplies and we’ve been offered food.

“It’s better than even going to other social events because here it’s more of a community, more of a family,” she said.

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