The annual Taste of Chicago event was swarmed by Black Lives Matter protesters on Saturday. Hundreds of people showed up to protest police brutality in the United States, and a protest which began at the Taste of Chicago festival and moved throughout downtown Chicago to Water Tower Place and the South Loop, ultimately lasted for hours. The Taste of Chicago Black Lives Matter protest is just one of a recent string of protests, which have been undertaken in response to a rash of police shootings involving African-American suspects.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) July 9, 2016
The Taste of Chicago food festival is the largest food festival in the world, and it lasts for five days every July. This year’s festival has now been marred by the anti-police sentiment sweeping major metro areas across the country, reports ABC 7 Chicago.
The Taste of Chicago Black Lives Matter protest was largely peaceful on Saturday, but it did become a bit chaotic at around 10 p.m. local time. That’s when multiple protesters were handcuffed for their parts in the protest; reportedly police officers on horseback were targeted by protesters throwing bottles.
While the Taste of Chicago Black Lives Matter protest was mostly peaceful, both at the Taste of Chicago event and as it fanned out throughout the city, it had many spooked in the wake of the Dallas police shooting. Protesters marched and chanted “no justice, no peace,” as well as “hands up, don’t shoot.” As they moved away from the Taste of Chicago event (where the massive group initially congregated), the Black Lives Matter protesters tried to get onto the expressway (possibly to block traffic, a tactic used by Black Lives Matter protesters in other U.S. cities), but those efforts were thwarted by police.
Indeed, local police officers managed to cordon off access to the main local thoroughfares, keeping the Taste of Chicago Black Lives Matter protesters off of the South Loop. After they were unable to access their target area, the protesters collectively marched from Chicago’s State Street to 13th Street and then onto Roosevelt. It was at that point that the Black Lives Matter protest, which had begun at the Taste of Chicago event, turned chaotic and resulted in clashes with police.
@chicagotribune I guess they're hoping to incite more snipers to kill police.
— Andy Fields (@andy_fields1) July 10, 2016
I was trying to find the bathrooms at Taste of Chicago and somehow ended up in a Black Lives Matter demonstration
— nick Ånderson (@nickolai_and) July 9, 2016
— 2929ocean (@RobertHamza8) July 9, 2016
The protest began at 5 p.m. local time on Saturday when demonstrators gathered at the Taste of Chicago event. According to multiple reports, the Black Lives Matter protesters had hoped that they would have significant numbers and influence to shut down the annual Taste of Chicago festival (the biggest festival in the city) in order to draw attention to their cause of reducing police brutality, especially against the African-American community.
Only a small number of protesters were actually able to get inside the Taste of Chicago festival gates, however. This is because the Taste of Chicago event doesn’t allow attendees to bring in signs, which meant that most of the protesters were forced to remain outside of the perimeters of the festival itself. Those inside the gates chanted together in protest of police violence with words meant to symbolize retaking “their” city.
“This is our city. These are our streets.”
— Nuccio DiNuzzo (@ChiTribNuccio) July 10, 2016
When the attempt to shut down the Taste of Chicago food and music festival was unsuccessful, a large group of Black Lives Matter protesters marched north through the city, ultimately gathering at and around the Water Tower Place.
According to protesters and Black Lives Matter advocates, police in Chicago and around the U.S. have no accountability for their acts of violence. They buttress their claims with accounts of recent police killings, including the slayings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana. In both of these instances, the victims of police violence were African-American. Both of these recent killings took place in the last week, and they are thought to have been the catalyst for the Dallas police shootings that also took place last week.
Police say that only three people were arrested as a result of the Taste of Chicago protests on Saturday.
[Photo by Rena Schild/Shutterstock]