Protesters Attempt to ‘Shut Down' the Taste of Chicago

Hundreds of protesters converged at demonstrations across the city Saturday, even attempting to "shut down" the Taste of Chicago with a march through Grant Park. 

Activists rallied at Daley Plaza around 9 a.m., and at Millennium Park around 1:30 p.m. Protesters at Millennium Park then embark on a march through the city's Loop shortly thereafter. 

The "Taste of Chicago Shutdown" happened around 4 p.m., kicking off at 325 S. Michigan Ave with activists making their way into the festival, linking arms, and chanting.

"No Justice, NO REVENUE!," the event description on Facebook read. "lets show the country that we are going to set the tone. No more being scared, now its time to stop losing this war."

While hundreds particpated in the march, even staging a die-in, the Taste of Chicago was not closed, and reactions at the festival were mixed. Some joined in the protest, while others thought it was the wrong approach. 

"I wasn't aware of this but I came and joined it anyway because this is very important and this is something that needs to be taken action right now," one protester said. 

"We have a serious issue that our nation is coming to deal with and we've got two officers standing right there," said festival attendee Dale Simpson of Warrenville. "I wish every single one of them went up to them and said, 'Thanks for today. Because you guys are here, we're enjoying this. We're calm, we're safe.'"

While the Chicago Police Department did not specify any changes to patrol, officers were present at the march and the festival. 

"We have Police resources at the taste and officers are highly visible," Chicago Police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. "We will protect individuals rights to assemble and demonstrate but will be intolerant to any illegal activities."

After leaving the Taste of Chicago, protesters continued to march through Chicago's downtown area, staging sit-ins and blocking traffic at multiple locations near Grant Park and Millennium Park. 

Saturday's events come after days of protests throughout Chicago and across the country in response to the fatal police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling earlier in the week. 

On Friday, activists staged a "die-in" near President Barack Obama's home in the Kenwood neighborhood. Hours later, religious leaders and even celebrities kicked off a peace walk from St. Sabina Catholic Church in the city's Auburn-Gresham neighborhood.

On Thursday, roughly 400 people marched in a demonstration organized by Black Lives Matter. The protest began on the city's South Side, briefly blocking traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway during the evening rush hour. 

Castile, 32, was killed Wednesday night during a traffic stop in Minnesota. His girlfriend, who recorded the aftermath of the shooting, said Castile did “nothing but what the police officer asked of us, which was to put your hands in the air and get your license and registration.”

Sterling was killed during a confrontation with police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His death was recorded, with footage appearing to show two officers tackling and shooting the 37-year-old outside a convenience store. The U.S. Department of Justice said it will investigate his death. 

Thursday's protest organizers are also calling for an economic boycott on the Magnificent Mile on July 30. 

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