Juneteenth celebrations and services are expected across Chicago Friday, prompting discussions from city officials over whether to observe it as an official holiday.
Here are the latest on protests, demonstrations and fallout happening across the Chicago area today:
Chicago Businesses Set to Celebrate Juneteenth Friday
While it’s not a federal holiday, many in Chicago will observe Juneteenth this year, thanks to employers who say they are taking part in a fight for inclusivity, equality and diversity.
Juneteenth, which takes place every year on June 19 to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States, has been celebrated by many for decades but has gained new attention this year amid protests following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery.
“It’s a day of education,” Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition said. “It’s a day of emancipation.”
While some cities are debating whether to observe Juneteenth as an official holiday, including Chicago, many area businesses are deciding to halt normal business operations on their own, adding the holiday to their official calendar.
Activists Push for New Police Oversight Board in Chicago
A couple hundred activists gathered outside of Chicago City Hall to call on the mayor and City Council to create a new elected board that would have the power to investigate and fire police officers.
The activists hope to persuade Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the council, who were meeting at City Hall during the protest, to support what is called the Civilian Police Accountability Commission, or CPAC, ordinance, though they have been trying for months without gaining much ground. Aldermen have been reluctant to support CPAC and Lightfoot has been locked in a dispute about how such a commission might work.
Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, said Wednesday that she continues to support civilian oversight of the police but prefers a different approach than the activist-backed proposal.
Family, Friends Demand Answers After Man Left in Critical Condition After Confrontation With Police
Friends and family of a man who remains in critical condition after a confrontation with police at a suburban gas station gathered for a vigil outside of the Round Lake Beach Police Department Wednesday, calling for answers and a thorough investigation of the incident.
According to police, 21-year-old Abel Rosiles is still alive at a local hospital, but is not showing any brain activity at this time.
Rosiles was allegedly the subject of multiple 911 calls at a Thornton’s gas station on June 11. According to police, a victim had called 911 from the gas station early that evening, saying that a person was in the store yelling and screaming, but the individual fled the scene before police arrived.
A second 911 call went out later that night after an employee pushed a panic button. When police arrived, they spoke to the employee, who said that Rosiles had been shouting and was threatening them.
Rosiles began shouting at police, according to a press release from the department, and was taken into custody.
Officers placed Rosiles into custody for disorderly conduct, but as they were walking him to a squad car, he fled on foot and made it about 30 feet before being detained again by police. The arresting officer was able to take him back into custody, but then officers noticed that he was having trouble breathing.
Officers began to attempt the Heimlich Maneuver after Rosiles indicated that he was choking, but were unsuccessful in dislodging the item in his throat.
Paramedics were called to the scene after Rosiles began to lose consciousness, and eventually they were able to clear his airway, pulling a bag of white powder out of his throat. The substance inside the bag was later determined to be cocaine when police used a field testing kit, according to authorities.
Bears Declare Juneteenth a Team Holiday, Will Mark Day With Special Videos, Fundraising Campaign
The Chicago Bears have announced a series of changes to team policy as the Juneteenth holiday approaches, including closing their offices on Friday in honor of the holiday.
According to a press release from the team, the Bears will designate Juneteenth as a team holiday from now on, joining the NFL in making that change.
“Employees and fans are encouraged to learn about and celebrate the holiday, along with considering ways to be an active participant in the fight for equality and making a positive impact in our communities,” the team said in the release.
In addition to closing team offices, the Bears will publish a series of videos from players, who will explain what Juneteenth means to them and how they celebrate the holiday.
Running back Tarik Cohen will also take over the team’s Instagram page, giving fans an inside look at his family’s celebration of the holiday.
Finally, the Bears will spearhead a special donation campaign, designed to raise money for the DuSable Museum of African-American History in Chicago.