Outrage over the murder of Laquan McDonald—17 years old, killed with 16 shots by murdering pig

Shutting Down Black Friday on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile

November 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


“Shut it down!”—today it was not just a slogan. At least 2,000 protesters literally shut down the famous shopping zone on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue known as the Magnificent Mile.

Freezing rain and high winds could not put a damper on the outrage that has spread widely across the city during this last week since a court ordered the city to release the police dash cam video. This video, now seen all over the world, shows the cold-blooded street execution of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald that took place over a year ago. Authorities rushed to try to contain mass anger by both firing the murdering cop, Jason Van Dyke, and charging him with first-degree murder—the first such charge on a cop in Chicago in at least 35 years.

Since the release of the video, the demand for full accountability continues to mount. Police, city officials and the State’s Attorney have ALL conspired to suppress the video all this time. They paid out $5 million to the family of Laquan with the stipulation that the family could not release the video. They blatantly destroyed evidence: Burger King confirmed that after the police entered their restaurant, 86 minutes of video vanished from their security camera; the audio from multiple other dash cams did “not exist” due to supposed mechanical malfunctions. All the other cops on the scene did nothing to stop the execution nor did they immediately demand their fellow pig be tried for murder. No one on the scene even attempted to give medical aid to Laquan. It was an execution AND a massive cover up, and both are why people are so angry throughout the city. It was not one “bad apple” as the mayor and the police chief claim.

Chicago, BLack Friday

Chicago, Black Friday protest

Chicago, Black Friday

Chicago, Black Friday protest. Photos above: www.revcom.us

Chicago, Black Friday at Disney Store
Photo: Special to Revolution/www.revcom.us

Chicago, Black Friday
Chicago Revolution Club at Black Friday protest. Photo: www.revcom.us

For over five hours on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, all lanes of traffic were closed by marchers, completely bringing things to a halt in this part of town. The people who had turned out were determined that there would not be business/shopping as usual as if the murder of Laquan and everything surrounding it didn't matter. NO! Black lives are more important than shopping was the message that a lot of people wanted to deliver. Many protesters wanted to put economic pressure on the city since this is the biggest single shopping day of the year. 

People formed into groups and blocked the entrance of every major store along a six-block stretch. It was an unbelievable protest! It was no ordinary protest! People shut down the Disney store! People shut down Niketown! And Tiffany’s, Rolex, American Girl! People shut down the Apple store—and inside the employees danced and cheered! Everywhere people chanted, "This store is SHUT DOWN!" Shoppers could not enter, and those inside in some cases were not allowed to leave for over an hour by order of the police and store security. Finally, shoppers were taken out the back entrances.

Standing arm-in-arm in front of many stores were groups of diverse strangers who forged a strong bond and unity over many hours in their determination to shut down business on the Magnificent Mile to protest the police murder of Laquan McDonald. Just in one long line in front of Macy’s at Water Tower Place, passionately chanting “16 shots” over and over again were a middle-aged middle-class Black couple linking arms with a white Chicago high school student on one side and Black high school students from the spoken word group Kuumba Lynx together on the other; down the row were Latino college students, many Black people of all ages from the neighborhoods, Asian and white students in town for the holiday. Standing in solidarity with them were many other kinds of people. Two women from Germany said they knew all about Laquan McDonald from the news in Europe—they knew he was shot 16 times. The longer they stood out in the bitter cold and wind the stronger they became. It was a picture of exactly what’s needed—EVERYBODY who is opposed to police murder standing up against it.

Meanwhile in the street, a group of 300 protesters marched up and down Michigan Avenue, shutting down all traffic for hours. Youth from some of the most oppressed Black neighborhoods were up on the planters, leading chants. Dancing and chanting “16 shots and a cover up!” in the streets together were young and old Blacks, whites, Asians, and Latinos, from the Teachers Union, the Transit Union, PUSH, churches, students and many people who came on their own because they felt they had to be there. A very accomplished drummer (who was once the drummer for Ramsey Lewis, among others) kept an awesome beat. At one point when some of the organizers tried to end the protests, a middle-aged Black woman stepped up to lead people to refuse to stop. She said, “Why are we here? We’re here for Laquan! We’re here to shut it down, we can’t leave now. We’re here for ‘Ronnieman’ Johnson. We’re here for the people who were killed by the police who have no justice.” (Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson, an unarmed 25-year-old Black man and father of five small children, was murdered by Chicago cops in October 2014.)

At one point the Revolution Club and people running with it—BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts over their coats—together with some family members of people murdered by police stretched across all of the already-shut-down Michigan Avenue, chanting, “How do we get out of this mess? Revolution—nothing less!” and singing the song “Hell You Talmbout?” The Revcoms also agitated about the epidemic of genocidal police murders across the country and the nationwide movement against it that everyone needs to join in to spread and strengthen it. And that the realistic solution to this is revolution and people should check out the work and leadership of Bob Avakian (BA) and the RCP he leads. During this action, a Black woman came up to stand directly behind the Revcom agitator, who is white. “I’ve got your back,” she whispered to the agitator.

Along the march and in front of the stores, protesters, bystanders and thwarted shoppers reached for the flyer with the statement by Carl Dix, “Justice for Laquan McDonald—Send the Murdering Pig to Jail!” as well as palm cards with the statement by Bob Avakian on “There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness...” This powerful action shows the potential for what BA addresses in his statement as well as the basis to go forward in building the mass movement to STOP police terror and murder.

The demonstration to bring Black Friday to a halt on Michigan Avenue brought together diverse forces coming from different political perspectives. Calls for the demonstration came from Jesse Jackson’s Operation PUSH, Black Lives Matter, Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the Chicago Revolution Club, BYP100, the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression, Arab American Action Network, several LGBT and religious groups, and more. Several prominent figures such as Congresspeople Bobby Rush and Danny Davis and activist priest Father Michael Pfleger, mayoral candidate "Chuy" Garcia, and former teachers' union head Karen Lewis all endorsed the demonstration and turned out to march. Some of those calling for the demonstration represent forces, including some in the Democratic Party, that have been in sharp conflict with Mayor Emmanuel. Many cite other police murders where no one is ever punished, the closing of 50 schools last year and the utter refusal to devote any resources to the impoverished Black communities. Mark Clements, a victim of Chicago police torture, was a powerful voice heard on a bullhorn urging people to stand firm and shut down business as usual. People brought their families, including kids in strollers.

Overall, there was a spirit of mass defiance against the system (however people understand that) along with a strong feeling of community among people who had not known each other before stepping forward to collectively shut down shopping as usual. People felt the importance of taking action to make a statement that murder by police cannot be tolerated.

Chicago police were present en masse but took a hands-off approach to the thousands of marchers and active closing of stores. The city announced the arrest of a suspect in the murder of a nine-year-old boy, which was supposedly a gang retaliation against the boy’s father. This story was run as a “counterpoint” on all the news to the demonstrations against the police murder and cover-up of the police murder of Laquan.

The demonstration impacted thousands and thousands who were there to witness it and many hundreds of thousands more through widespread media coverage. 

Some shoppers appeared annoyed but for the most part people seemed to understand what was happening. There were a small number who were aggressive about getting into a store, some who whined about their “right to shop” and a white teenager in tears because she could not get into Timberland. Black Friday draws shoppers from all over the Midwest as well as the whole world to the Magnificent Mile shopping area. The website DNAinfo.com/Chicago relayed the reactions of a couple of would-be shoppers:

"It actually doesn't bother me," said Sterling Powers, who was stuck in traffic. She showed her solidarity, honking her horn to the rhythm of the protesters chants and giving the thumbs up out her window. "It's inconvienent for us in America all the time—African-American, Pan-African—it don't matter," said Powers, a Jamaican immigrant. "So we can be inconvenienced for a little bit for this."

Bonnie Pugh was on the Mag Mile visiting with her two kids from Columbus, Ohio. Her son asked her what people are doing. "Well, they shot a man 16 times and they're mad," she told her son. "I guess it's education for my kids," she said. "They've never seen anything like this." 


Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian
BA Speaks: Revolution Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live
BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)
WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism
You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation Its History and Our Future Interview with Raymond Lotta
The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need