Chicago to Ferguson: City Hall Sit-in Turns to Downtown March

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally published at Gapers Block | Nov. 26, 2014

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in downtown Chicago Tuesday evening to protest a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

The march began around 6:30 p.m., after police ordered protesters off City Hall’s fifth-floor, where they had been staging a planned 28-hour sit-in outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.

Organizers said the sit-in’s duration represents the idea that “A black person is killed by a police officer, security or self-appointed vigilante every 28 hours.”

The day of action, organized by the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100) Chicago Chapter in coordination with Don’t Shoot Coalition, included over eight hours of teach-ins, healing circles and other performances.

The day kicked off about 9 a.m. with a press conference at City Hall. Speakers called for immediate demilitarization of law enforcement agencies nationwide and joined in nationwide calls for Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee Officer Darren Wilson’s case.

Then, BYP 100 organizers lead a “political education teach-in” on the Agenda to Keep Us Safe — a policy agenda proposing strategies to end criminalization of young black Americans — and held healing circles for Chicagoans impacted by local acts of police violence.

After police ushered the crowd from City Hall, they spilled outside into the cold night air and marched through the Loop for nearly two hours — all-the-while surrounded by heavy police presence.

Organizers said they made a collective decision to leave City Hall when ordered, to avoid risking arrest.

Chants including “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Black lives matter” could be heard from protesters as they marched down the sidewalks of Michigan Avenue and State Street.

The march was peaceful but there were a few heated moments between police and protesters during the evening.

More than a few cries to “fuck the police” were met by audible support and cheers from the crowd. Police did not engage protesters at all, except to keep them on the sidewalks and out of the streets during the march.

Demonstrators reached their final rally point outside ABC7 studio, where “Chay” of BYP100 took the to microphone to cap off the day. She addressed the crowd of protesters gathered on the sidewalk and police lined up on bicycles, to block protesters from the street.

Chay, an organizer with BYP 100 Chicago, speaks out against police militarization and brutality at a Tuesday evening rally in downtown Chicago. (Photo by Emily Brosious.)
Chay, an organizer with BYP 100 Chicago, speaks out against police militarization and brutality at a Tuesday evening rally in downtown Chicago. (Photo by Emily Brosious.)

“We’re not the ones making this un-peaceful,” Chay said. “It’s the law. That’s the only thing making this un-peaceful.”

She recounted violence she saw police perpetrate on demonstrators in Ferguson, the day after Michael Brown’s murder. It was a militarized police state.

“Rubber bullets, wooden pellets, tear gas. Want to know what we did? We continued standing,” she said. “We came back the next day stronger than ever.”

This ongoing action is meant to shape a better future for the next generation of young black people, Chay said. The movement gets stronger by the day, as more people join the fight, she said.

“The more united we become, the more powerful we are,” Chay said. “Don’t let these cops tell you that you’ll never make it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’ll never make it.”

Protesters dispersed Tuesday’s demonstration about 10 p.m., calling to pick back up 12 p.m. Wednesday at State and Jackson.

“Make sure you continue to stand with these people,” Chay urged. “Don’t go home and let this die down.”

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