Just before Christmas, Black Lives Matter protests roil cities across the US – Los Angeles Times

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and a winter of discontent, a season of police bullhorns and Christmas lights.

Demonstrators protesting police shootings of black men confronted last-minute holiday shoppers and travelers in California and the Midwest this week, seeing the crowds as an opportunity to draw attention to their cause.

In Chicago on Thursday, more than 100 demonstrators marched down North Michigan Avenue, the city’s premier shopping corridor, and laid down on the street for a “die-in.” They also blocked access to some stores where Christmas Eve shoppers were hoping to wrap up their tardy gift-buying.

The demonstrators were again protesting the October 2014 police shooting of Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old carrying a knife who was killed when a Chicago police officer shot him 16 times.

The officer, Jason Van Dyke, has been charged with first-degree murder. Footage released last month appeared to show McDonald walking away from Van Dyke, sparking protests that have yet to fully die down, much as the Black Lives Matter movement has remained in national headlines since last year’s protests in Ferguson, Mo.

“When one part of Chicago is affected, all of Chicago is affected,” one of the demonstrators, Alex Thiedmann, said of the “Black Christmas” demonstration on North Michigan Avenue. “If I remain silent, I become an oppressor.”

Onlookers affected by the protest had a mixed response. Emily Grossman, 36, was kept from getting an iPhone at the Apple Store. “I hate to put myself first, but this is BS,” she said.

Rabiah Muhammad came downtown for a doctor’s appointment but stopped to watch the protests.

“I was walking down the street and I saw all these beautiful people of all ages and colors,” she said. “I think it’s a bigger problem than the city of Chicago. It’s an American problem. This kind of brutality? That’s not what our country is supposed to be.”

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