Updated 12/24/15 – 12:02 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Activists plan to disrupt shoppers along the city’s busiest retail district on Thursday, in a protest they’ve dubbed “Black Christmas” in their continuing effort to pressure Mayor Rahm Emanuel to step down over the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
About 100 protesters blocked the northbound lanes of the Michigan Avenue bridge around noon. Demonstrators planned to march up the Magnificent Mile, in a repeat of a Black Friday protest that prompted many Michigan Avenue stores to close shop for hours, although the crowd of protesters on Christmas Eve was much smaller, as about 1,000 activists took part in the Black Friday event.
According to published reports, the Black Friday protests cost stores 25 to 50 percent of their projected sales.
Protesters plan to again block the entrances to many Michigan Avenue stores on Thursday, disrupting last-minute shoppers and sales on the last shopping day of the holiday season.
Thursday’s march was being organized by the Coalition For a New Chicago, a group of activists that has been calling for the mayor to step down over his handling of the McDonald shooting. Emanuel fought for more than a year to keep police dashboard camera video of the shooting under wraps. The city didn’t release the video until months after Emanuel won a runoff re-election in April.
“We need to have our issues exposed. They need to be out front. We need people to hear us the same way that Dr. King and those guys, when they were protesting, they went to places where people would be upset, would become uncomfortable, and therefore be heard. And so, we’re raising consciousness too,” said Rev. Gregory Livingston.
Demonstrators said they hope affecting the economics on the Magnificent Mile will help convince Emanuel he should resign.
“We feel that losing lives is more important than losing money, and if this is the way that we’re going to be heard, then we have to make this impact and continue to do it, in order to save lives. So, for us, it’s about saving lives, and if they have to lose money to get their attention, well then so be it,” Livingston said.
Before the actual march began, shoppers seemed to be taking the possibility of a disruptive afternoon in stride.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense for this particular area, but I understand the reasons behind it,” shopper Kate Walker said.
Fellow shopper Larry Cubalchini said he lives nearby, and works in retail, so he can sympathize with store owners, but also understands the protesters’ concerns.
“Hopefully their protest will bring something in the end that, for them, can give them some peace, too,” he said.
Organizers said the Black Christmas protest will be peaceful, but effective. They plan to stay on Michigan Avenue from noon to 5 p.m.
Some shops have brought in extra security guards, and were prepared to lock their doors to keep protesters out.
The mayor is on family vacation in Cuba, but has repeatedly said he has no intention of resigning. Protesters also have demanded Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez step down, after she took 13 months to charge Police Officer Jason Van Dyke with murder in McDonald’s death.