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CPD locks down headquarters for activists’ ‘block party’

About 25 people associated with the group Good Kids Mad City showed up to play music from their cars, blow bubbles and write on the sidewalks with chalk. Roughly 50 CPD officers guarded the main doors, while at least a dozen more guarded auxiliary entrances around the sprawling building.

Dozens of police officers guard the entrance of the Chicago Police Department headquarters Thursday afternoon, July 23, 2020 as youth activists call for the defunding of the police department.
Dozens of police officers guard the entrance of the Chicago Police Department headquarters Thursday as youth activists call for the defunding of the police department.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A small “block party” organized by a youth activist group prompted the Chicago Police Department to lock down its Bronzeville headquarters Thursday.

About 25 people associated with the group Good Kids Mad City showed up to play music from their cars, blow bubbles and write on the sidewalks with chalk.

Asked what prompted the party, Matthew Wilbourn, an organizer with Good Kids Mad City, said: “Black joy. Period.”

“We figured why not celebrate ourselves?” he added.

Roughly 50 CPD officers guarded the main doors, while at least a dozen more guarded auxiliary entrances around the sprawling building, though those officers were primarily standing in the shade of trees and chatting amongst themselves.

Though they were not being worn, officers outside headquarters were equipped with riot helmets — in keeping with CPD Supt. David Brown’s recent order that any officer assigned to a protest wear “any and all” protective gear at their disposal.

“If y’all walking up on a bunch of people who are being peaceful and having done nothing wrong, you’re walking up on them with batons and s—-, you’re asking for something to happen,” Wilbourn said.

While the activists were at the building, CTA Red and Green line trains temporarily halted service at their nearby 35th Street stations. Several street closures were also put in effect around headquarters. About a half dozen snowplow trucks from the Department of Streets and Sanitation were called over to help block traffic.

While the gathering remained peaceful, albeit sometimes profane, some attendees had brief but tense exchanges with members of CPD leadership who came outside. One man, reading officers’ last names, looked up how many complaints of misconduct have been lodged against some officers, announcing the totals to the others assembled.

On the sidewalk and in the street, the group wrote several slogans that have become familiar refrains in local protests in recent years. “CPD KKK How many kids did you kill today” could be seen in the middle of South Michigan Avenue.

Officers went back into headquarters shortly before 2 p.m. after the activists left the area. A few half-empty bottles of water and Gatorade were left in the street, and one officer picked them up and dumped them over “KKK.”

Earlier Thursday, Good Kids Mad City joined other social justice groups in filing a lawsuit against several federal law enforcement agencies to prevent federal agents being deployed to Chicago by President Donald Trump from harassing and detaining protesters.

A Chicago police officer empties water and Gatorade bottles onto a chalk message written in the street by members of Good Kid Mad City.
A Chicago police officer empties water and Gatorade bottles onto a chalk message written in the street by members of Good Kid Mad City.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times