About 1,000 protesters walk through Downtown Jefferson Park as part of Black Lives Matter march
by BRIAN NADIG
About 1,000 protesters chanting and carrying signs walked down Milwaukee Avenue in Downtown Jefferson Park as part of a 75-minute march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and calling for more police accountability on Friday evening, June 12.
The event began with a rally in front of Alderman Jim Gardiner’s 45th Ward office, 5425 W. Lawrence Ave., as event organizers demanded that the alderman support an ordinance which would create a Civilian Police Accountability Council.
“The community members coming together for this protest believe Gardiner has an obligation to address their concerns, especially in light of recent events in Chicago and across the country following the murder of George Floyd,” organizers said in a statement.
After the rally in front of Gardiner’s office, that had protesters carrying signs saying “White Silence is Violence,” “Divest CPD,” “Enough is Enough” and “45th Ward for CPAC,” the demonstrators headed east on Lawrence Avenue and then turned left onto Milwaukee, proceeding north toward the 16th (Jefferson Park) District police station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave. Police escorted the protesters and blocked off traffic as needed.
Toward the end of the march, which found its way back to the front of the alderman’s office, protesters kneeled as a group near the Lawrence-Milwaukee intersection in memory of Floyd, who was killed after a police officer kneeled on his neck for more than 8 minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.
Organizer Ryan O’Donnell said that the protest was designed to call out elected officials who “hide their racism behind predominantly white constituencies or even the Democratic Party,” adding that they will be held accountable.
Gardiner did not attend the march but earlier in the week said, “While there are various paths to bring about change, I have chosen that of service. The 13 years I have worked in West Garfield Park as a Chicago firefighter, a special education teacher on the South Side and a park district employee who coached and mentored countless children in black and brown communities has given me a deep appreciation for these disparities.
“As an alderman, I am hopeful we can one day unite our efforts in supporting communities most impacted by racial inequities. By working together, we can make a positive change for the better.”
The crowd at the rally and the march included many parents and their children.
A Black Lives Matter march also is planned to begin at Gardiner’s office at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 13, and go through parts of Jefferson Park, Norwood Park and Edison Park.