Activists planning return to Mag Mile for ‘Day of Defiance’
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Protest organizers are hoping the rise of Donald Trump will boost attendance at Magnificent Mile demonstrations that have become a downtown holiday tradition since the 2015 release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video.
Two years ago, hundreds of demonstrators blocked traffic on North Michigan Avenue, disrupted access to the high-end shopping districts stores, and likely prompted Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fire his then police superintendent, Garry McCarthy.
But those initial Black Friday protests fell just two days after city officials released video of McDonald being shot 16 times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
Last year, the number of protesters was considerably smaller, admitted longtime community activist Frank Chapman.
Chapman thinks that the first 10 months with Trump in the White House may stoke the fires of activism, and he’s hoping for bigger crowds for the Day of Defiance protests set to begin at 10 a.m. Friday near the Water Tower.
Trump has singled out Chicago repeatedly since he started his run for the presidency, calling for “tougher” police tactics and pledging to “send in the Feds!” if violent crime in the city persisted.
“I hope to see hundreds, but I won’t make predictions,” said Chapman, of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which is helping organize the protests with Black Lives Matter and other groups.
“There has been a lot going on since last year.”
A Facebook event for the Day of Defiance: Boycott Black Friday on Tuesday afternoon listed 128 people as “going” and 260 others as “interested.”
Activists have targeted Black Friday, much to the chagrin of local merchants and City Hall— who no doubt prefer that the critical holiday shopping season occasion street closures necessitated only by parades and tree lightings— intending to pressure city officials by threatening the city economy.
A spokesman for the Magnificent Mile Association, a coalition of Michigan Avenue merchants, did not immediately return calls Tuesday.
Emanuel fired McCarthy fired on Dec. 1, 2015, just four days after the Black Friday protests, praising the chief but saying he had become a “distraction.”