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‘March after march. Protest after protest. And nothing changes in America’

Chicago protesters Wednesday evening assail ‘travesty’ in Breonna Taylor police shooting and grand jury decision.

Demonstrators marched from Chicago Police Department headquarters in Bronzeville on Wednesday evening to call for justice for Breonna Taylor in the controversial Louisville, Kentucky, police shooting. 
Demonstrators marched from Chicago Police Department headquarters in Bronzeville on Wednesday evening to call for justice for Breonna Taylor in the controversial Louisville, Kentucky, police shooting. 
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Hundreds of demonstrators flooded Chicago streets from Auburn Gresham to Logan Square on Wednesday evening, decrying a grand jury decision not to charge police officers in the fatal Louisville, Kentucky, shooting of Breonna Taylor.

A Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for the killing of Taylor during a drug raid gone wrong, with prosecutors saying Wednesday that two officers who fired their weapons at the Black woman were justified in using force to protect themselves after they were shot at.

The only charges brought by the grand jury were three counts of wanton endangerment against fired Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into a home next to Taylor’s that had people in it. The FBI is still investigating potential violations of federal law in connection with the raid at Taylor’s home on the night of March 13.

Demonstrators with St. Sabina Church in the Auburn Gresham community on the South Side hit the streets Wednesday evening to demand justice for Taylor.

Several dozen protesters gathered at the steps of the church at 1210 W. 78th Place around 5 p.m. Wednesday before marching onto Racine Avenue.

“We are sick of being sick and tired,” the chants echoed out.

Then, after a short march that ended at the intersection of 79th Street and Racine Avenue, Rev. Michael Pfleger, the church’s pastor, poured fake “blood” onto the asphalt. The substance spelled out “Breonna.”

“Unfortunately, the grand jury today couldn’t even say her name,” Pfleger said. “We’re here because a travesty was done today in America but not a new travesty. The same old thing happening over and over again.

“A message is sent again in America that Black and Brown lives mean nothing in America,” he added.

Demonstrators then sat in the middle of the intersection amid a prayer calling for peace and justice in the United States.

“March after march. Protest after protest. And nothing changes in America,” Pfleger said.

“Today we learned that a person has no rights even in their own house,” he said about Taylor, who was fatally shot inside her home.

“Police are too protected in this country. When police do wrong they have to go to jail.”

A crowd of a few hundred people also gathered outside Chicago Police headquarters Wednesday evening in Bronzeville at 35th Street and Michigan Avenue, blocked from the building by a wall of salt trucks.

Cassandra Greer-Lee, one of dozens of protesters who addressed the crowd, said the Chicago Police Department’s intimidation tactics wouldn’t deter her.

“I will exercise my right,” she told the crowd. “You will not move me. You will not intimidate me. It doesn’t matter.”

Lamar Whitfield, founder of the No More Foundation and another speaker at the protest, said he was “disgusted” by today’s news from Louisville. But he said the $12 million settlement Taylor’s family received last week from the City of Louisville also made him expect it.

“It’s unfortunate that they are basically saying that’s what her life was valued at. It should remind all of us in this world that realistically, we’re just a number to people,” Whitfield said. “But together, we are the people that run this country; we are the people that allow this country to move in a positive direction.”

Later Wednesday evening, several hundred people converged on Palmer Square with a bike brigade guarding every intersection they passed. Police on bikes closely followed the activity.

“I’m here tonight to make sure we say her name and say it loudly.” Janell Garcia said. “By not holding these officers accountable shows what we have been demanding for all summer is being ignored.”

Near Millennium Park, a few dozen demonstrators gathered before a march that zigzagged through downtown.

Among the crowd at the pre-march rally was a trio of Franciscan priests from St. Peter’s Catholic Church, who wanted to support protesters.

“Inclusivity wins,” Fr. Ed Shea, OFM, said. “The White House is in the position of exclusion.”

LaShawn Littrice, who led chants of “say her name” for Breonna Taylor, is a mother of seven, including a 26-year-old daughter. She said she can’t fathom the pain Taylor’s family feels.

“I am so fed up with watching what is happening,” said Littrice, who is from Englewood but now lives in south suburban Flossmoor. “This is not the norm.”

After officers stopped protesters from marching north on Michigan Avenue at Illinois Street, the crowd headed south. Passing cars laid on their horns in support. At the intersection of State and Madison streets, marchers stood in a circle and took a moment of silence in honor of Taylor. One man kneeled while others raised their firsts in the air.

Contributing: Associated Press