CHICAGO — Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at Chicago's premier shopping district, Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile, on Black Friday to continue their protests over the police shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald.
Despite chilly temperatures and rain, Friday's rally saw more people, including young children and the elderly, gather than previous protests on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"The cold is temporary, the rain is temporary," said protester Christian Branch. "On Black Friday, we're going to make it hard for them to ignore the black voice."
Many protesters said they believed they could garner attention from Chicago officials by demonstrating on one of the country's major retail days and harming the city's economy.
"Black Friday is one of the biggest moments in this country where corporations profit from the hard earned money of people," said Charlene Carruthers, a member of Black Youth Project 100. "For us, it's really important to demonstrate what happened to Laquan McDonald is not an isolated incident."
"No justice, no peace, no racist police," the crowd chanted as they marched north on Michigan Ave. The protesters also shouted familiar refrains from earlier protests, including "16 shots and a cover up" — a reference to the number of shots Officer Jason Van Dyke fired at Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke was charged this week with first degree murder over the 17-year-old's death as footage of the 2014 killing was released by officials.
"Something needs to change," Marshall Hatch Jr. told BuzzFeed News. "It's not enough to just charge Van Dyke with murder. This has been a cover up from the bottom up and [State's Attorney] Anita Alvarez, [Mayor] Rahm Emanuel, and [Police Supt. Garry] McCarthy have got to go."
Max Thomas said he was born and raised in Chicago's south side, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, and he's tired of experiencing segregation. "A lot of us don't have hope," he told BuzzFeed News. "Our voices need to be heard everyday and these past few days we've shown that they can be heard peacefully."
Once protesters reached Water Tower Place, the end of the march's route, they linked arms to block the entrances of major stores.
The protesters created barricades in front of Macy's, Ralph Lauren, Apple, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Zara, among others. The march, which was mostly peaceful, shut down traffic to vehicles for hours. A total of three people were arrested, two for traffic related incidents and one for battery, a Chicago police spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
Muriel Adams came out Friday with her son Garrett. The two linked arms outside the Ann Taylor store and said they hoped to bring attention to the cause.
"I have two sons and every time I watch TV and I see a young man go down, I see my son," said Muriel Adams. "That could have been my son."
Outside Zara, a female security guard at the store yelled at protesters, saying their actions were not peaceful. At the same scene, a protester confronted police officers, criticizing authorities for not releasing the dashcam video of McDonald's death for 400 days.
"I used to want to grow up and be a police officer. Not anymore though," the protester said. "Y'all need to hold each other accountable. Don't let your job deter who you are as a person and what you feel."
One man seeking to enter stores, Asnzour Jallouqa, yelled at protesters and said he had waited for this day all year to take his wife shopping. Jallouqa engaged in a heated debate with the protesters until a Zara employee escorted the man and his wife into the store.
Many shoppers on Michigan Ave. told BuzzFeed News that they couldn't understand why the demonstrators were targeting retailers.
"I don't understand the link between the shooting and stopping shopping," said Michele Matthews, who was visiting Chicago from Michigan. "I hate to say [the protest] is an inconvenience but it is. I don't think they're getting their point across in the right way."
As shoppers walked by some protesters yelled, "what makes you think this is just our problem?"
A number of the shoppers looked annoyed. Some visibly rolling their eyes, while others tried to break through the human barricade the protesters created. A teenage girl started crying when she and her mother were blocked from entering the Timberland store.
"This is a small price to pay for justice," some protesters chanted at the shoppers.
"By disrupting their shopping we're making them face the fact of what is happening to young black people," Harold Merrell said.
It's not a matter of ignorance anymore, it's a matter of avoiding the truth," Merrell's friend Lester Harris said. "It's up to us to bring awareness to them, and have it be recognized."
Many protesters said they believed the day was successful in having city officials take notice.
"Whether it's by stopping people from spending money, we made people realize the protest is happening," Harris said.
"If you want to keep generations moving forward, you have to make them aware of issues at hand," he said.