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24 Dec, 2015 20:22

'Black Christmas' protesters block Chicago stores, 2 detained

'Black Christmas' protesters block Chicago stores, 2 detained

Over a hundred demonstrators are trying to block last-minute Christmas shoppers from entering stores on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, demanding the mayor's resignation over the police shooting of an African American teen. Two people were reportedly detained.

A follow-up to the Black Friday protest the day after Thanksgiving, which shut down a number of stores in the city's famous shopping district, the protest is going by "Black Christmas."

It is a reference to Wednesday's protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Black Lives Matter activists attempted to repeat the 2014 "Black Christmas" protest, picketing the Mall of America, but were turned away by police and ended up at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, causing traffic and flight delays.

Roughly three hours into the protests, a scuffle broke out between demonstrators and police, the Associated Press reported. Two people were taken into custody. 

Demonstrators say that disrupting holiday shopping is a form of civil disobedience, aimed at compelling the authorities to take their demands seriously.

Some of the protesters carried signs with the slogan "Shopping for a new mayor." Activists have called for the resignation of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, as well as State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

"Barack, come get your boy!" Rev. Gregory Livingston, leader of the Coalition for a New Chicago, told reporters covering the protest.

Emanuel, who was Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama before resigning to run for mayor of Chicago, has already sacked the police superintendent and the head of the agency that investigates police abuse, but has shrugged off demands to resign himself.

Protesters staged a 'die-in' and chanted "Sixteen shots and a cover-up", a reference to the number of rounds Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke fired at black teenager Laquan McDonald in October 2014.

Chicago authorities released the video of McDonald's death last month and charged officer Van Dyke with murder. Protesters have blasted the actions as too little, too late.

Though the protest has so far been smaller in scope than the Black Thursday march, more demonstrators have been arriving by bus from different parts of Chicago.

Morale among the Chicago police is "probably the lowest I've seen in my 35 years," police union president Dean Angelo Sr. told AP on Thursday.

Officers are holding off on fighting crime because "don't want to be the next headline," added Angelo, a 60-year-old former detective who leads the 12,000-member Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge Number 7.