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Chicago Protesters Block Traffic, Stage 'Die-Ins' Following NY Grand Jury Decision

(CBS) -- Hundreds of protesters marched in and around downtown Chicago Thursday in angry response to a New York grand-jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the death of a black arrestee earlier this year. Marchers here shut down traffic on Lake Shore Drive at one point and also staged "die-ins" by lying down in the street.

Tolerant Chicago police officers monitored the displays of civil disobedience and prevented the marchers from heading to their initial intended destination: Soldier Field, where a game was being played by the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys. The crowd of activists headed elsewhere, with some activists yelling, "No justice, no peace!" and "We can't breathe!"

"If nobody speaks up, nothing's going to change," protester Hannah Wright told CBS 2's Mike Parker.

Around 8 p.m., protesters made their way up the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive and also blocked southbound traffic, as a wall of police officers awaited them at North Avenue. The group was eventually steered onto the Inner Drive.

Protest In Chicago
Protesters lie down in the street in Chicago's Loop Thursday night. (Bob Roberts/WBBM)

Thursday's protest stems from another racially explosive civilian death at the hands of police. Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, died in July after police officers attempted to arrest him for allegedly selling loose, untaxed cigarettes in the Tompkinsville section of Staten Island.

In cellphone video of the incident, a white police officer is seen placing his arm around Garner's neck in an apparent chokehold and then taking him to the ground after Garner refuses to be handcuffed. Garner, who was black, is heard saying repeatedly, "I can't breathe!" and died a short time later.

Marchers Tie Up Traffic

Demonstrators began taking to the streets Wednesday after an East Coast grand jury decided not to charge Officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection with Garner's death. The biggest protests have been in New York, but other cities have been the setting for organized statements.

"We reached a point in this country where black lives don't matter, again and again and again, and I think we need public voices standing out, just saying we're not going to take this anymore," one Chicago protester told CBS 2 Thursday night.

Last week, protesters here marched in response to another grand jury deliberation. A panel in St. Louis County declined to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, during an altercation in Ferguson, Mo.



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