CHICAGO–A grand jury’s decision to not indict a Ferguson, MO. police officer in the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, was just another reminder that the system needs to change, said one Chicago woman.
“We have to push forward to demand that the Department of Justice takes this on, this is a national issue, the federal government is obligated to address this,” Aislinn Pulley said.
Brown, unarmed, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, a white Missouri police officer on Aug. 9th.
Since then, hundreds have protested in Ferguson, a suburb about 300 miles south of Chicago. Racial tensions and mistrust towards local law enforcement has continually grown.
On Tuesday afternoon, Benjamin Crump, an attorney representing the Brown family, spoke at a press conference.
“This process is broken, the process should be indicted,” he said. “It should be indicted because of the continuous systematic results that [are] yielded by this process,” Crump said.
In Chicago organizers staged a 28-hour sit in at City Hall. Members of the Chicago Chapter Black Youth Project 100 said that every 28 hours a Black youth is shot. The protesters want Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help end the police involved shootings by using his pull with other politicians.
And on Monday, while protesters in Ferguson anxiously waited for the grand jury’s decision to be announced, Chicagoans gathered across the city to stand in unity.
Despite the frigid temperatures, dozens huddled together at a rally organized by We Charge Genocide, many with free coffee in their hand to help keep warm. Protesters met in front of the police headquarters, chanting, listening to energized speakers, but mostly just waiting for the jury’s decision.
People were in agreement that the protests happening across the country were bigger than Brown. Todd St. Hill, the event’s organizer said that even if Wilson had been indicted, the system still needs to be changed. He listed off names of other victims, saying that Chicago youth are dying everyday.
“We need to figure out a way to address the situation that Black and Brown people find themselves living under in America,” St. Hill said.
“It has never been a system that values Black and Brown bodies or lives,” he said.
Local authorities and even President Barack Obama encouraged people to peacefully protest. In a televised address to the nation, Obama said, “We are a nation built on the rule of law, so we need to accept that this decision was the grand jury’s to make.”
He said that Americans need to find ways to bring communities and police officers together. Building trust needs to happen, but it won’t, he said if people are vandalizing and committing acts of violence.
The president’s words didn’t reach enough ears because violent protesters took to the streets in Ferguson, burning and breaking into buildings, just minutes after the jury’s decision was announced.
Protests simultaneously happened in California, Denver, Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago among other cities across the country.
In Chicago, marchers shut down Lake Shore Drive as they walked east from police headquarters at 35th and Michigan.
Rev. Jesse Jackson of Rainbow PUSH agreed with Obama, saying that the peaceful approach is best because violence will act as a distraction, which will take away from the message. He stressed that being peaceful doesn’t mean being quiet though.
“They want us to run around as quiet makers, not peacemakers,” he said. “We should not be quiet. We’d be crazy to be quiet, we should be making noise, but on the right agenda.”