Scores of protesters marched through downtown Chicago's high-end shopping district Thursday to draw attention to the 2014 police killing of a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a white officer.
According to the Chicago Tribune, more than 100 protesters marched from along North Michigan Avenue through the Magnificent Mile shopping district, blocking some shoppers and holding “die-ins” on the street. The area is one of the largest shopping attractions in the Midwest and hosts many high-end stores and hotels.
Event organizers from the Coalition for a New Chicago were hoping the Christmas Eve demonstration would replicate another Michigan Avenue demonstration in which a few hundred people disrupted shopping there on Black Friday.
The release last month of police dashcam video showing the 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald has led to weeks of sporadic protests.
On the night of his death, McDonald was carrying a knife, but appeared to be walking away from officers at the time he was shot to death. One of the officers, Jason Van Dyke, opened fire on McDonald and kept shooting after the teen crumpled to the ground.
Police only released dashcam video of the killing last month after being ordered to do so by a judge and prosecutors only charged Van Dyke hours earlier, leading to allegations of an attempted cover-up, a federal civil rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department and a series of protests, including the one Thursday.
Van Dyke is set to be arraigned Tuesday on a first-degree murder charge.
Many demonstrators hope the ongoing protests might dampen retail sales in order to highlight what was seen by many as a tardy and still insufficient response from the city and police to McDonald's death and to underscore broader accusations of police brutality.
Many carried placards that read, "Rahm Resign," referring to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and one demonstrator walked shops holding a sign that read, "Shopping for a New Mayor." Police held bikes to block side streets, with several dozen officers in front and behind the group.
While the dashcam recordings released last month have no audio, new audio recordings of radio calls between Chicago police and a dispatcher released Wednesday show at least one officer had requested a Taser before the fatal shooting McDonald.
"Can someone get us a Taser? … This guy, ah, kind of walking away, he has a knife in his hand," one officer calmly radioed on the Oct. 2014 night.
Local station WMAQ-TV said that it obtained audio of the dispatch calls through a Freedom of Information Act Request.
The Chicago Police Department said this week that officers will wear body cameras in six South Side or West Side neighborhoods starting this spring.
The department said in a news release Wednesday that the six areas were chosen after a review of patrol activity and crime data. Officers have already worn them in one North Side district. Mayor Emanuel says the cameras will help "build trust" in the police. But Emanuel and the department have faced heavy criticism over officers' treatment of suspects.
Police frequently use lethal force in Chicago, killing an average of 17 people a year over the past seven years. More than 70 percent of people shot by police in Chicago from 2007-2014 were black. The city's population is about one-third African American. Van Dyke is the first officer charged with a crime in an on-duty death in 30 years.
Emanuel, on holiday in Cuba, has said he will not step down, but he did bow to protesters and fired police chief Garry McCarthy and agreed to a review of police practices by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Al Jazeera and wire services