By Rachael Ponn
In response to events in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody, protesters flooded Chicago’s South Side streets on Tuesday to condemn police violence and remember the hundreds who have died from it.
As the sun began to set, homemade signs with phrases like “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Police Crimes” were held up by members of the crowd. The protest began outside Chicago police headquarters, but quickly swelled to more than 500 people and migrated east toward 35th Street and King Drive.
Malcolm London, the 22-year-old co-founder of Black Youth Project 100, was one of the event’s leaders.
“The reason why I fight,” London said, “is that every day, when I see my nieces and nephews playing outside or kicking it with me, it’s knowing that this current climate that they live in means that they may not make it to 22.”
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What started off as an orderly march quickly transformed into waves of people blocking off entire streets while chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” Police helicopters circled above while the back and sides of the protest were lined with officers on bicycles. The police were mostly hands off as they monitored the march, but small scuffles still occurred and some protesters were arrested.
Martinez Sutton, the brother of Chicago’s Rekia Boyd who was shot and killed by Detective Dante Servin in 2012, was one of the marchers. The recent news that the officer was acquitted on a technicality by a Cook County judge was a rallying point for the crowd.
“I love you!” Sutton exclaimed, “without y’all…” he said as he trailed off and shook his head.
Organizers of the demonstration made 110 black pinwheels to represent the number of people killed by police in Maryland since 2010.
As the crowd traveled past residential homes and businesses, people opened their doors to watch and cheer the marchers.
The protest broke up peacefully just before 10pm, ending up in front of the University of Chicago’s campus. London says he and his group will continue to demonstrate until there is meaningful change.
Photo at top: Rachael Ponn/Medill
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