MOUNT GREENWOOD — Black protesters decrying the death of Joshua Beal, shot by an off-duty police officer in Mount Greenwood, faced what they called '60s-style racism as they clashed Sunday with demonstrators supporting police, activists said.
The two groups were attending a rally in response to the Saturday shooting death of the 25-year-old man.
About a dozen protesters gathered in front of the Burger King at 11020 S. Kedzie Ave. around 3 p.m. and were met by counterprotesters across the street, many waving "Blue Lives Matter" flags.
"We are here to support CPD," said a Mount Greenwood man who asked not to be named. "That s--- that happened on 40th and Pulaski [Laquan McDonald killing]? We don't support that. This was not that."
The police supporters numbered in the hundreds, while fewer than 20 activists showed up. They faced racial slurs and repeated requests to leave the neighborhood, and police had to intervene a few times.
"It was hectic," said Ja'Mal Green, the activist who called for the Sunday protest. "I was in shock the whole time."
Green said he knew what he was getting into, as he had received death threats within hours of the protest's announcement. Still, Green said the racism the activists faced took him by surprise and rattled the group.
"It really felt like we were back in the '60s," he said. "The rally shows that a black man can be killed by police, and they were overjoyed about that."
The rally proceeded with "Justice For Joshua" supporters walking up and down nearby blocks, surrounded by police and the counterprotesters. Racial slurs were thrown about as voices and chants grew louder.
Officers eventually formed a circle around the activists who were standing in the middle of Kedzie Avenue. Many of the activists received police escort to their cars parked on side streets, though counterprotesters still followed behind them.
"Absolutely not" said activist Iggy Rucker, when asked if he'd ever needed a police escort after a protest. "And we protest everywhere."
Police did not say if anyone was arrested Sunday night.
"Here's your guy with a f***ing gun in his hand," one protester shouted, holding up a photo of Beal holding what appeared to be a gun before he was shot Saturday.
"Stop shooting cops!" another person chanted.
"CPD, KKK," responded a protester on the other side of the street during the rally.
The incident leading to the fatal shooting of Beal happened the previous day, around 3 p.m., when police said a vehicle that had just left a funeral service was stopped in traffic in front of a Chicago Fire Department station in the 3100 block of West 111th Street.
An off-duty firefighter told the driver he was blocking a fire lane. The driver got out of the car, and a fight broke out, police said Saturday.
A police sergeant on his way to work saw the fight and saw a man with a gun, police said.
"The sergeant stopped, exited his vehicle, displayed his weapon and announced his office," the statement said. "As the incident continued to escalate, and the offender failed to drop his weapon, shots were fired striking the individual multiple times."
Saturday night, Black Lives Matter Chicago activists clashed with people near the scene of the shooting.
Activist Kofi Ademola said they didn't come to Mount Greenwood to protest. They just wanted to connect with Beal's family and waited in the Burger King at 111th Street and Kedzie Avenue until they were asked to leave, Ademola said.
"There was no protest," Ademola said. "We were there to check on the family to make sure they were safe. Next thing we knew, we were surrounded by a bunch of angry white people. Nobody said anything to them."
"A young white guy [walked] up with a baseball bat," Ademola said. "The police took the baseball bat from him. White people are driving by and yelling at us 'n----- go home!' Get the f--- out of here! Blue Lives Matter.' More of them got out of the car and chanted 'CPD! Blue Lives Matter.'"
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here.