CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Nineteen people were arrested in protests Saturday night that clogged traffic in the Loop to cap a day of rallies here and elsewhere following police shootings of African-American men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and outside St. Paul, Minnesota, and the deadly attack on police by a sniper in Dallas.
A total of 19 protestors were arrested, a Chicago Police spokeswoman said Sunday.
Four protestors were arrested in the 18th District, police said. One person was being charged with felony counts of aggravated battery to a police officer and the other three were being charged with misdemeanors.
Fifteen arrests happened in the 1st District, police said. Three people were facing felony charges and the other 12 were facing misdemeanors.
In downtown Chicago, the group, including Black Lives Matters activists, began with about 50 people outside Taste at Michigan Avenue and Van Buren Street, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. They were met by a dozen police officers who wouldn’t let them in the free festival with the oversized signs they carried, calling for “Justice for Alton and Philando” — Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, who were killed by police officers in in caught-on-video shootings that have rocked the nation in recent days.
“There needs to be more checks and balances on cops, and that’s what the system is lacking,” said Tayla Moore, who was among the protesters. “What we fear is that these cops are supposed to serve and protect and uphold law and justice and peace in our community — and they’re shooting us.”
“We have the right to show America the right way to treat individuals,” said another marcher, Jashaun Bowens.
The protesters ditched their signs and made their way through Taste, as curious onlookers took photos with their cellphones and some join the marchers.
Semial Jones, 34, of Harvey, was munching on a turkey leg at Taste while watching the protesters stage a “die-in” at Columbus Drive and Jackson Drive.
“I love what they’re doing,” Jones said. “They’re mad, and they want you to know it. Police need to respect that.”
The protesters swelled to more than 200 marchers as they left Taste and began circling the Loop, staging periodic sit-ins at major intersections, including shutting down traffic at Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard.
Greg Tully, a North Sider, got out of his car and watched as the marchers blocked his way south on Michigan Avenue. But he didn’t mind.
“I can wait,” Tully said. “I think this is more important than one person getting somewhere on time. They’re fighting for recognition.”
The march continued north on Michigan Avenue to the Water Tower. Chicago cops on bicycles tried to corral protesters at the Chicago River but eventually gave ground, letting the marchers pass. Outside of a few testy staredowns, there appeared to be no clashes between protesters and the police.
Chris Towers, a 19-year-old from South Shore, said officers treated him and other protesters well.
“They’re doing their jobs. A lot of them are good people,” Towers said, but he added, “We’re out here fighting a system that represses us.”
One police officer, Tony Famiglietti, said he has “no opposition” to the protest.
“I just have to keep an eye on them to make sure nothing happens,” the Chicago cop said. “As long as it’s peaceful, it doesn’t bother me.”
The march circled back through River North into Saturday evening still with well over 100 protesters outside Trump Tower, chanting, “You can’t stop the revolution.”
After the sun set, some pushing and shoving broke out as police tried to stop protesters from circling east on Jackson Boulevard from State Street, but marchers kept heading south in a cat-and-mouse game until the police held them up at Clark Street.