Chicago protest in Bronzeville draws thousands demanding police reform, justice, non-violence

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A protest led by Bright Star Church in Bronzeville Tuesday evening is aiming to bring back the message of police reform and racial equality organizers say has gotten lost as rioters and looters not affiliated with the peaceful protests have pulled attention onto themselves.

The protest was held in conjunction with a number of faith-leaders throughout Chicago.

At times the protest felt more like a parade. Chicago police walked alongside thousands of demonstrators as they shouted George Floyd's name, letting it echo off the buildings of Bronzeville.

The march began at 26th Place and Martin Luther King Drive , a powerful display of unity and a clear message for peace on Chicago's South Side.

"This is what America needs to see," said one protester. "This is what's happening. We're in this together, we're all God's children."

"This is a really important moment in our country's history," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

"I made history and I am so glad to be here right now," said protester William Jefferson, Jr.

The protest and march were held by members of Chicago's faith community, determined not to let violent looters and rioters take away their message to America.

"We're also here to get the message back on point to make sure that the discussion is not about looting, but the discussion a policemen who should be charged with first degree murder," said Rev. James Meeks, Salem Baptist Church of Chicago.

"All four of them should be in jail," said Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Demonstrators danced their way down along Martin Luther King Drive.

"What we're saying is we don't want to be killed anymore," said Alesha Regis, whose grandparents also marched with Jackson during the Civil Rights movement. "I'm raising two black children and I don't want it to come to where I'm walking because they're not here anymore."

The couple embraced Mayor Lori Lightfoot's message, calling for calm, saying those destroying communities are not helping the cause.

"It makes it clear and profound that people know the difference," Regis said. "People need to know the difference."

The protest ended with prayer at Washington Square Park.

"It's time for a change," said Robert Oden. "It's time for us to take a look at each other and say we need one another."

Organizers have a set of demands, and are asking the mayor and superintendent for a police reform agenda so that if something like this were to happen here, the public will know what actions will be taken.

The organizers say the public should not have to wait for another tragedy like this to know how officers will be held accountable.
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