CHICAGO — Hundreds of people protesting the chokehold death of a New York man at the hands of police officers swept through the Loop Thursday night, breaching Lake Shore Drive and stopping traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway.
After marching down State Street towards Soldier Field, where fans were gathering to watch the Bears take on the Cowboys, the group moved west down Roosevelt Road. They expressed outrage that a grand jury declined to indict a New York City police officer who killed a 43-year-old man by putting him a chokehold.
The group stopped near the Dan Ryan Expy., slowing traffic in both directions to a crawl. Some lay in the middle of the street, and others tried to enter the expressway before being stopped by police. The group moved west, taking over one lane and walking between cars in the eastbound lane.
The group held signs reading "We need better laws to protect us from bad cops" and "#Obama doesn't care about black people." Another said "Justice for Eric Garner."
"It's a blatant blow at black humanity," said Edgewater resident Amina Ross, 21, on the verge of tears. "Their actions, or lack of actions [by the courts], have affirmed a belief that black people are worth nothing in this country and I can't take it anymore."
The group moved east, staging a "die in" on Madison Street, and stopping traffic on Michigan Avenue near Millennium Park. They chanted "hands up, don't shoot" as they marched across the Chicago River.
At one point, protestors crossed onto Lake Shore Drive and sat down before moving north. Southbound traffic was stopped at Fullerton Avenue and northbound traffic was stopped at Goethe Street. Traffic was backed up to at least Monroe Street.
The city said traffic was moving by 9:10 p.m.
In all, four people were arrested for misdemeanor offenses during the protests, Officer Ana Pacheco, a Chicago police spokeswoman, said Friday morning.
Many people in their cars honked their horns in support of the protest, which roused the protestors. But some drivers seemed frustrated that they had to stop, which caused some protestors like Ross to shout expletives at them.
She said she has two 18-year-old brothers and fears that "these boys who were killed could have been my brothers."
Another protestor, Marshaun Montgomery, 27, said the Eric Garner case is "different" than the Michael Brown case. The 27-year-old said Garner clearly wasn't "aggressive" when he was put in a chokehold after being accused of selling loose cigarettes.
Outrage and unrest at the killing of young blacks at the hands of police has spread in recent weeks.
Garner, who was black, was killed when a Daniel Pantaleo, a white New York City police officer, put him in a chokehold in July. Earlier this week, a grand jury decided not to indict him for Garner's death, setting off protests nationwide.
The protests follow the unrest that came when a St. Louis County, Mo., jury didn't pursue charges against Darren Wilson, a white police officer, who killed Michael Brown, a black teen.
In Cleveland, police shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice on Nov. 22, after the boy waved a realistic BB gun in a park.
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