Arrests Made After Protesters Destroy Part of City Christmas Tree

Police made several arrests after protesters tore lights off from the City Christmas Tree in Millennium Park

During the second night of protests over the Laquan McDonald shooting, police made several arrests after some demonstrators tore off lights from the Christmas tree standing in Millennium Park.

Video shows a group of protesters just before 10:00 p.m. yanking the lights from the bottom of the tree. Police quickly responded to disperse the crowd. Investigators have not said exactly how many arrests were made.

Dozens of protesters took to the streets in Chicago's Loop during rush hour Wednesday calling for "justice for Laquan" after video of the teen's fatal 2014 shooting was released Tuesday. 

Demonstrators marched down State Street and at one point blocked traffic near State and Randolph streets. They were heard chanting "the whole damn system is guilty."

Several protests have been planned in Chicago, including a number of demonstrations scheduled to take place on Black Friday, following the release of video showing the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

A Chicago police officer has been charged with murder in the shooting. Dash-cam video of the incident shows McDonald, who police say was armed with a knife, walking away from police officers at the scene before being shot. In the video of the shooting, McDonald's body appears to jerk repeatedly from additional gunshots while he’s on the ground.

A rally and march were scheduled to begin during rush hour Wednesday involving community and youth leaders from across Chicago, including those who gathered to protest the police-involved shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The group was expected to host a public screening of the dash-cam video showing McDonald’s fatal shooting at 5:15 p.m. at the Bronzeville Visitors Information Center. They also plan to march to the Chicago Police Department’s headquarters.

“Much like the Jon Burge police torture scandal, this most recent incident has drawn national and international attention to the corrupt practices of the Chicago police department,” Patricia Hill, a former police officer and the current leader of the Chicago Independent Human Rights Council, said in a statement. “Unless we want to subject ourselves to similar human rights violations, we must fundamentally redefine the policing of our communities.”

Black Lives Matter protesters marched Wednesday afternoon from the Cook County Criminal Court building, where a protester arrested Tuesday was appearing for bond court, to the site of McDonald’s shooting.

Aislinn Sol, Chapter Coordinator for Black Lives Matter Chicago, said no other demonstrations were scheduled for Wednesday, but later events could be organized.

Five people were arrested Tuesday night as hundreds marched along city streets in a largely peaceful protest over McDonald's killing. 

Chicago Police Department spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said that outside of the incidents that led to the five separate arrests, the protest was otherwise respectful.

"The Chicago Police Department supports citizens’ First Amendment rights and goes to great lengths to ensure those rights can be exercised," Guglielmi said in a statement Wednesday morning. "While on the whole last night’s demonstrations were peaceful, a few isolated incidents resulted in five arrests and assaulting [of] police officers."

Several activist groups have also planned demonstrations in Chicago for Black Friday.

Groups including the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network have each called for protests along Michigan Avenue during one of the biggest shopping days of the season.

Despite the protests, retailers are still encouraging shoppers to come downtown for the day.

“Our job as the business association is to work with the retailers restaurant and our partners to make sure every single day is a safe experience on the mile and that's what we expect,” said John Curran, vice president of the Magnificent Mile Association. “We keep in close contact with police and other city services and we relay that information to our members and we’ve been in very close contact with our members as we always are for Black Friday.”

Curran called the Mag Mile event “the quintessential Black Friday experience.”

“Come down here,” he said. “We intend to have a very safe and wonderful day.” 

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