LOGAN SQUARE — A protest Friday night in Logan Square is expected to be the biggest yet in honor of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy whom a Chicago police officer shot and killed.
The protest comes just one day after videos from Toledo’s killing were released, sparking outrage in Chicago and across the country. Smaller protests and vigils were organized in the days after the March 29 shooting and on Thursday night, but more than 2,000 people have said they will attend or are interested in attending Friday’s demonstration near Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home.
The protest starts 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Logan Square monument, 3150 W. Logan Blvd. It’s been organized by activist groups and community organizations. On Facebook, they said they will demand justice for Toledo and other victims of police violence.
Toledo’s family have said they want such demonstrations to be “peaceful.”
“We understand that emotions in the community are running high in the wake of the release of police body camera and other videos depicting the March 29 police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo and that protests are planned for later today,” attorneys for Toledo’s family said in a statement Friday. “The Toledo family implores everyone who gathers in Adam’s name to remain peaceful, respectful and nonviolent and to continue to work constructively and tirelessly for reform.”
Neighbors and business owners in Logan Square said they’re pushing for justice for Toledo and his family the same way the protesters are.
“It’s terrible what happened to the kid. It could be my kid. I have a 15-year-old at home,” said Esam Hani, who owns several restaurants and bars in the 2800 block of North Milwaukee Avenue.
Elected officials and community leaders are mobilizing to spread the word about the protest and to make sure protesters stay safe.
Nilda Esparza, director of the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce, handed out flyers to business owners in the area.
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), who represents part of Logan Square, said he’s working with the Comfort Station, the arts organization at the square, to provide mutual aid and masks to Friday’s protesters. The leaders of Grace United Methodist Church, 3325 W. Wrightwood Ave., will offer their bathrooms, phone chargers, first aid and other relief to protestors.
Ramirez-Rosa said his office, 2934 N. Milwaukee Ave., Unit C, has “Justice For Adam Toledo” posters that residents and business owners can pick up.
Meanwhile, Lightfoot’s neighbors are gearing up for hundreds — maybe thousands — of protesters on their block. It’s nothing new, as demonstrators have taken to protesting outside of Lightfoot’s Logan Square home, especially after police killed George Floyd last year in Minneapolis. During protests, police cordon off Lightfoot’s block with officers and barricades.
“We kinda settled into the notion that protests are going to happen,” said Kyle Stefankiewicz, who lives down the street from Lightfoot at Bernard and Altgeld streets. “There’s a lot of good that can come from that, as long as it doesn’t progress into people’s houses and families. We’ll try to hunker down and allow people to exercise their right.”
Some of Lightfoot’s neighbors, like Bethanie Omiecinski’s husband, are joining Friday’s protest.
Omiecinski and her family, who live just a couple doors down from Lightfoot, put up a sign in their window that reads, “Black Lives Matter, Rebuild Trust, CPAC Now.” Omiecinski said they did it to send a message to Lightfoot that the Police Department — and the city’s relationship with the department — needs to change.
“It’s just not people different than you that want changes,” Omiecinski said. “We’re trying to send those messages in the best way we can.”
Though all protests and memorials for Toledo have been peaceful, the city has prepared for potential unrest. More police have been stationed Downtown and the city has deployed large trucks to block neighborhood commercial strips and protect businesses from looting like that experienced last summer.
Numerous large protests were organized last spring and summer in response to police killing and abusing people of color. At the same time, significant looting and vandalism broke out in Logan Square and other parts of the city — but officials have said the people behind those incidents were not involved with the protests.
Hani — who stood guard outside of his business during last summer’s unrest — said he’s prepared to jump into action should there be similar events Friday, but he doesn’t expect that to happen.
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