Black Lives Matter Protest
Christmas Eve in Chicago I met up with a friend to see what we could see and then shoot it. We walked out of my hotel room and headed towards the Magnificent Mile and walked right into the heart of a Black Lives Matter protest for Laquan McDonald*, a young black teen who had been shot 16 times by police responding to a complaint of car break-ins back in 2014. Release of a police dash cam video in November of 2015 that showed what happened to Laquan sparked weeks of protest.
Whom do I admire? On this afternoon I admired the efforts of both camps in this protest. The issue is a valid one. To be young and black in America can be a death sentence. The leaders of Black Lives Matter intended to disrupt commerce on the biggest shopping day of the year in the richest shopping district in Chicago to make their point. They aimed to draw attention to their cause with peaceful protest.
For the police, their goal was to maintain order and prevent disruption of business without allowing the situation to decay into violence. There were tense moments when that could easily have happened. The decision was made to allow the protestors to have their say. It turned out to be a wise one. The protestors had the streets and sidewalks but were very effectively prevented from actually entering stores. Streets were blocked off by police on mountain bikes and due to where my hotel was my shooting partner and I found ourselves on the “inside” with the protestors and news media. It was amazing, and slightly frightening to have these well trained law keepers slip silently by to cut off movements of protestors.
This could have went down in so many ways. It could have been as bad as 68 but the leaders on both sides kept it together. THAT is to be commended.