Matthew Kaplan Photography

Chicago March Against Police Brutality - August 15th, 2020

A Black Lives Matter supporting group, attempting to emulate a successful anti-violence demonstration from July of 2018, was frustrated in their effort to march onto and block the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Meeting near the busy freeway at Taylor Park on ‪47th Street‬, organizer Rabbi Michael Ben Yosef and his supporters found their anti-police brutality rally harangued by counter protestors from the surrounding neighborhood, and thwarted from approaching the interstate entrance ramp by a strong show of police force. Local counter protestors, angry about the problems they say outside demonstrations bring to their community, shouted “We ain't standing with none of these white folks” and “BLACK power”.

The rabbi led his multi-racial group of followers east on ‪47th street‬, then north towards downtown on Indiana and Michigan avenues, stopping along the way to hear from people who have their lost loved ones through the actions of the police. Demonstrators displayed placards with the names of people who had been killed by police brutality. An unusually strong escort of Chicago police, some on bicycles and many in riot gear, accompanied the demonstrators. Present as well was a contingent of Illinois State Troopers stuffed into even more massive riot suits, and looking to some like a cross between football players and Star Wars characters. Marchers chanted as passed by,  “We don’t see no riot here, why you in your riot gear?”.

Rabbi Michael and his speakers preached that they were a non-violent organization and that “looting will not make your voice heard!”. One of the speakers, who had lost his brother to police action in 2014, ended his passionate oration with “All lives matter!”

Some of the white protesters felt emboldened to show their middle fingers to the line of Chicago police and ominously clad state troopers. I didn’t see that same gesture coming from the black marchers, although I did hear much strong language. The rabbi worked to diffuse any heated interactions between police and demonstrators.

Some of  Rabbi Michael's demands are:

- End qualified immunity for police officers

- Defund the police

- Fire FOP president John Catanzara

-- Institute a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC)

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