Chicago protests after no indictment in Eric Garner chokehold death

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Friday, December 5, 2014
Protestors shut down Lake Shore Drive
Hundreds of protestors marched in downtown Chicago for several hours on Thursday and briefly shut down Lake Shore Drive.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of protestors marched in downtown Chicago for several hours on Thursday - and even briefly shut down Lake Shore Drive - in the wake of a grand jury decision to not indict a New York police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Around 7 p.m. the group began marching north up State Street and through the Loop while chanting "I can't breathe" and "Hands up, don't shoot." They stopped traffic on Michigan and Randolph before marching north over the Chicago River on Michigan Avenue. Around 8 p.m., protestors shut down traffic in both directions of Lake Shore Drive near Oak Street.

Around 8:45 p.m., protestors met a line of police at North Avenue, where police threatened to arrest anyone who tried to continue marching north. The standoff lasted several minutes before police were able to fully reopen Lake Shore Drive around 9:15 p.m.

"Police shouldn't go around shooting innocent people, people without weapons. I don't think it's right," said Georgia Dennis.

A large police presence remained in the Loop Thursday night as protestors marched back down Michigan Avenue, but Chicago police say so far, there have been no arrests.

The march began shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday at the intersection of State Street and Jackson Avenue. Protestors chanted as they moved orderly down the street, blocking some roads in the process. They were reported headed to Soldier Field where there is a Chicago Bears game Thursday night.

VIDEO: Protestors march in Chicago's Loop

Earlier, the group marched down State Street and then went east on 11th Street. Chicago police blocked the group from crossing Michigan Avenue. From there, the group marched to the South Loop, gathering at Roosevelt and Wabash and then heading west on Roosevelt. They were blocked from going on to the Dan Ryan Expressway.

More Chicago streets may be blocked by protests this weekend. The congregation of Saint Sabina Church plans to step out onto the street during Sunday services. Father Michael Pfleger is calling on all churches in Chicago to do the same.

"As a symbol, that as we interrupt traffic, we want to interrupt this racial profiling, interrupt a social justice system that is not working in this country, the injustice and the killing of black youth," Pfleger said.

PHOTOS: Protestors march in Chicago Loop

Earlier Thursday afternoon, hundreds also attended an earlier march at the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park. They blocked traffic near 55th and Woodlawn, but broke up the line to let an ambulance pass through.

"No justice, no peace! Black lives matter," the diverse crowd chanted as some protestors lay down in the street.

"It's my duty to. As a black person, it could have been anyone in my family," Tunisia Kenyatta said.

Garner, a black man, died after an encounter with New York Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is white, on Staten Island. He was stopped on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes in July and told officers to leave him alone before he was placed in Pantaleo's chokehold, witnesses said.

In a video recorded by cell phone, Garner is heard yelling, "I can't breathe."

On Wednesday, thousands of people protested in New York after the announcement. A moment of silence was held in Times Square and earlier demonstrators had lain down on the floor and filled the escalators at Grand Central Terminal.

PHOTOS: Protestors in New York Wednesday