Protesters gathered outside Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house to demand justice for Laquan McDonald and an end to the ethnic cleansing of Chicago vis-à-vis gentrification on Oct. 20, the anniversary of McDonald’s murder by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
The event, organized by the People’s Congress of Resistance, ANSWER Chicago and Black Lives Matter Women of Faith, gathered in front of Mayor Emanuel’s Ravenswood home in response to the $2.25 billion bid for an Amazon headquarters in the city of Chicago.
Despite what the city’s political and economic elites may say, an Amazon headquarters would not benefit the vast majority of Chicagoans. In fact, it would disproportionately impact Chicago’s Black community just as it has in Seattle, where recently an ordinance was passed to prevent the city’s racist landlords from prioritizing tech workers over working class families.
The protest started off with militant chants of, “16 Shots and a Cover Up!” and “No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police!” Before the speakers started, protesters took a knee in front of the mayor’s house to express solidarity with the movement against racist police terror.
John Beacham, Coordinator of ANSWER Chicago, opened up the evening by explaining what exactly an Amazon headquarters would mean for Chicago’s Black community.
“We just had to be at Rahm’s house on the anniversary of Laquan’s lynching. We are also here because the city is gearing up to possibly give billions of dollars to a corporation that’s going to escalate a gentrification that will disproportionately impact the Black community of Chicago,” Beacham said. “For us, it’s massively important to be out here on the street in front of Rahm’s house as he just put in the bid for Amazon. The man who covered up the lynching of Laquan McDonald has no right to be selling off our city to one of the wealthiest corporations in the history of the world.”
Following Beacham’s introduction, Lashawn Littrice, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Women of Faith, took to the front of the crowd and gave those in attendance a brief account of McDonald’s short life.
“[McDonald] had learning disabilities. … He had post traumatic stress disorder. He had multiple school suspensions. No one ever tried to reach out to help him,” Littrice said.
“[McDonald’s murder] is a nationwide case now. This is not something that just happened here and only affected us. It affected people around the world. We are mothers, we are wives, we have sons, and we will not stand by and watch our children get slaughtered like animals.”
Elias Rodriguez from the Party for Socialism and Liberation argued that the murder of Laquan McDonald and the Chicago bid for an Amazon headquarters are not two separate issues, but rather they are both connected.
“The wealth that Amazon has brought to Seattle has not been shared with its Black residents,” Rodriguez said. “[Amazon’s] whitening of Seattle is structurally racist and a direct danger to all workers who live in that city. So do we in Chicago and all across the country want a nation of cities dominated and occupied by massive corporations where only the rich and white can live and the vast majority of us must live on edges of the city and society living in deeper and deeper poverty?
“I don’t think so.”
Vigorous chants of “Justice for Laquan, not money for Amazon” followed Rodriguez’s speech as he stepped back into the crowd.
The evening concluded with a moment of silence for McDonald.
We will fight for a Chicago where racist police are held accountable for killing Black people, for a Chicago that welcomes and accommodates all peoples not just the rich and white, for a Chicago where healthcare, housing, and education are readily available to everyone. We will fight for a Chicago of the many!