Quick Hit Aaron Cynic Friday August 15th, 2014, 2:08pm

Chicagoans Take Part In National 'Moment Of Silence' Against Police Brutality (VIDEO)

Hundreds gathered in Daley Plaza in Chicago Thursday night for what they called a “moment of silence” to show solidarity with those who have been victims of police brutality.

The group began to gather as early as 5:30 p.m., with many carrying cardboard signs bearing the names of people who have been killed by police. Some 55 similar demonstrations were held nationwide, touched off by the shooting death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the subsequent protests of the local police.

“I’m so mad right now I can barely speak,” said Rachel Jackson, a Chicago Public Schools teacher. “This hurts so bad, it keeps continuing. I fear for my children and my students.”

Jackson said she couldn’t believe she was at another event marking the shooting of an unarmed young African American. “Last year I hosted an event for Trayvon Martin’s verdict and we’re still here a year later,” said Jackson.  

After chants of “no justice, no peace” and “black lives matter,” demonstrators fell silent for four minutes - one to mark every hour that the body of Mike Brown, the 18-year-old man shot by police in Ferguson, lay on the ground after his death. Brown was shot by Ferguson police last Saturday.

This morning, police identified the officer who shot Brown as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the police department. Local law enforcement officials say the officer was defending himself after he was pushed into a squad car and a struggle for his weapon ensued.

Witnesses to the scene, however, said that Brown was pulled towards the car by the officer. After a struggle, they say Brown attempted to run and after being shot by the officer, turned around with his hands in the air while the officer continued firing.

Brown’s death touched off a week of demonstrations in the area, many of which turned violent. Protesters were often met by police equipped with military combat gear and backed up by several armored personnel carriers.

On several evenings this week, law enforcement fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the backyards of the homes of residents. Many area residents reported to having been injured by projectiles fired by police and at least 75 arrests have been made since Sunday.

“Ferguson and St. Louis, it’s no different from any other place in America what’s happening to black people right now,” a St. Louis man named Cory told the crowd in Chicago last night. “Right now, if we were in Ferguson, there would be armored vehicles lined up all around with snipers aimed at all of you.”

Gesturing to a large group of journalists, Cory added, “They would be arresting you guys who are trying to give the news.”

Here's more from the vigil and march in Federal Plaza:

Critics have blamed the intense confrontations in the area on local police.

“Every 28 hours in this country someone who looks like me is shot down,” said Malcolm London, a 21-year-old from the group Black Youth Project 100. London recently emceed an event that took place at Roosevelt University where youth spoke out about violence experienced at the hands of Chicago police.

“In Ferguson, what they say is we can kill you and then when you get mad, we’ll send militarized police to your neighborhood. What does that mean for black lives for this country,” London asked.

Yesterday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon handed control of the situation in Ferguson to the Missouri State Highway patrol. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) received a standing ovation from a church congregation when she said the county should “demilitarize the police response” to the situation.

After the vigil and speeches, a group of a few hundred attendees marched around the plaza and later led a boisterous but peaceful march into the streets through the Loop.

Nate Marshall, a poet who performed for the group following the moment of silence, said he attended the vigil for his nephew.

“I wanted to bring my nephew to this because we’re working on reading, writing and one day we want to work on multiplication,” said Marshall. “One day we want to work on college applications, but we don’t really live in a world that’s conducive to that happening. But I’m here to build that.”

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