DOWNTOWN — Activist Jedidiah Brown is in the hospital after shutting down Lake Shore Drive for 1½ hours Sunday evening during an apparent suicide attempt — and the whole situation played out over Facebook Live.
Police said Brown, 29, parked his car around 5 p.m. east of the Lakefront Trail near Queen's Landing at 500 S. Lake Shore Drive, and it took SWAT team officers more than an hour to resolve the situation. Traffic in both directions on Lake Shore Drive was shut down.
In videos posted on his Facebook page, Brown said he was distraught over the death of a relative and frustrated by his work as an activist on the South Side of Chicago. The videos show him pointing a gun at his head.
“I’ve always loved this city and I love my family — I love everybody and I’m so sorry, but it’s over, I can’t recover from this,” Brown says in the Facebook Live video that was shot starting at 5:15 p.m. Sunday.
Brown, of South Shore, is a pastor and the founder of Young Leaders Alliance who received national attention when he rushed the stage at Donald Trump’s aborted rally in Chicago. He most recently appeared on national television Friday on “All In With Chris Hayes" on MSNBC during a town hall event about violence and other issues facing the city.
At the start of the video Sunday, passersby can be seen walking along the lakefront, unaware of Brown’s stated intentions. Police arrived within 10 minutes.
Brown’s phone can be heard ringing constantly throughout the video as friends and acquaintances realized what was happening, and other activists quickly raced Downtown to try to help him.
“Being an activist is not easy,” said Ja’mal Green, another activist who tried to help Brown.
After Brown was taken to the hospital, Green went on Facebook to explain the pressures that community organizers face. He said there are often financial struggles from organizing work that takes long hours for little or no pay.
“We have a lot of love problems, because there are not a lot of people to love on us while we’re loving on everyone else,” Green said.
Although Brown said it was the death of a "son" that triggered the incident, Green said it was actually a nephew that Brown regarded as a son who had died. Further details were not immediately available.
Green posted his own live video as Brown surrendered to police and left his car to get into an ambulance.
Shortly before, Brown had restarted his own live video at 6 p.m. and police could be heard over the loudspeakers of a SWAT van trying to get him to come out of his car.
“We’re here to help you, no one is going to hurt you,” police could be heard saying. “This is not the answer.”
Traffic had been shut down between Balbo and Jackson boulevards on Lake Shore Drive.
It is unclear how Brown obtained the black handgun seen in the video.
He frequently posts videos on Facebook of him wearing a uniform with a badge that says "SSA patrol," but it is unclear whether a gun is issued to him.
Police said Brown is not a police officer.