MAGNIFICENT MILE — Protesters marched on Michigan Avenue Thursday afternoon, calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's resignation.
Demonstrators at the event, dubbed #BlackChristmas started at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive and made their way north in an effort to bring their cause before the eyes of last-minute Christmas shoppers.
Billed as a "peaceful disruption," the march was organized by the Coalition for a New Chicago, an umbrella group formed this month to consolidate anti-Emanuel activists across the city following the release of the Laquan McDonald video.
The coalition includes activists from Rainbow PUSH, Black Lives Matter and Nosotros Somos America, in addition to the family of Philip Coleman, who died after being shot with a stun gun multiple times in police custody in 2013.
"The hope is going to be to raise awareness and shine a light on this corruption, so we can get [Emanuel] out," said the Rev. Gregory Livingston, the group's founder. "The ultimate goal is to get [President] Barack [Obama] to come get his political son and bring him back to Washington, where he belongs."
In the spirit of the holiday, Livingston said the protest would be "very Christmas-y."
"Christmas is so much about commercialization these days, but we want to bring it back to the idea of peace and hope," Livingston said. "Hope that as dire as things may seem, there can be better days ahead."
Anyone worried that the demonstration will hurt sales on the city's most profitable street, as they did on Black Friday, is missing the campaign's larger point, he said.
"To the people who worry about losing money, I say what about the half a billion dollars of taxpayer money the city is paying in settlements for police misconduct?" Livingston said. "This may hurt in the short term, but we're talking about something that's necessary to achieve positive change in the city."
But that change won't come, Livingston said, until the city has a new mayor. A former outreach director for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and manager for Willie Wilson's mayoral campaign, Livingston called Emanuel a "cancerous limb that needs to be removed before any progress can be made."
"With the levels of corruption and murder we're seeing in the city right now, people are starting to feel like they're living in an unofficial police state," Livingston said. "We've seen all these fall guys and distractions Rahm has tried to use to block his cover-up, but reform won't work. We need this city to be re-created."
Representatives of the Magnificent Mile Association declined to comment on the protest.