CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago police, city officials, and local businesses remain on high alert as they brace for the possibility of mass protests and demonstrations after the jury in the Jason Van Dyke murder trial reaches its verdict.
Judge Vincent Gaughan has said he will give an hour notice before the verdict is announced once the jury finishes its deliberations.
Businesses and hotels along the Magnificent Mile are preparing for the possibility of protest marches downtown, in the event the jury acquits Van Dyke of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. They have been working with employees and Chicago police to make sure they have a safety plan in place.
“I hope that everybody heeds the advice of Laquan McDonald’s family, the pastors and the community leaders, to make their message heard in what they have to say, and do it in a way that’s respectful to the city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday morning.
The Building Owners’ And Managers’ Association of Chicago and the Magnificent Mile Association have issued a bulletin to members, informing them police might ask to use their businesses to store equipment, or gain access to rooftops during large protests.
The Loop and Michigan Avenue have been the sites of mass protests in the past, after the city released the infamous dashboard camera video of the shooting.
Some business owners, like Sugar Bliss at the Palmer House, said they’re not sure what to expect, and have plans to lock their doors if needed. Right now, they are just waiting, like everyone else, to see what will happen next.
Several people downtown on Friday said, regardless of the verdict, they are hoping for peaceful demonstrations in the city.
“We’ve participated in protests before, and we’re hoping that it will be peaceful, and that everyone has a freedom of speech, and so we hope that everyone will be able to exercise that right, but in a safe manner,” Julia Treis said.
“Being born and raised here, being a true Chicagoan, I just don’t want to see the city pay the consequences. I don’t want to see nobody building get torched, or windows get broken, or any racial uprising. That’s my main concern,” Kenneth Maclin said.
Chicago hospitals also have taken steps to prepare for the verdict. Mount Sinai Hospital, for example, said they regularly conduct drills on emergency scenarios; and have stocked up on medicine, food, and linens.