USA

Protesters rally downtown for July Fourth boycott: ‘That flag is a lie'

Hundreds of protesters representing various local organizations listen to speakers during a rally at Federal Plaza on July 4, 2020.

Hundreds of protesters representing various local organizations listen to speakers during a rally at Federal Plaza on July 4, 2020. (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune)

While others celebrated, hundreds of protesters gathered in Federal Plaza on Saturday afternoon to boycott the Independence Day holiday.

The rally began around noon with speakers reciting portions of Frederick Douglass’ speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” as organizers held up a banner with his picture.

For the next hour, members of the Chicago Activist Coalition For Justice addressed the crowd and called on those not in attendance to look inward and recognize the injustices embedded in the United States.

“Today instead of celebrating I choose to remind my fellow Americans that my anger is justified. That that flag is a lie, it is a broken promise,” said community activist Robert Garcia.

At 2 p.m. the group began to march toward City Hall, stopping outside on LaSalle Street and demanding the attention of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other city officials.

Protesters continued to weave through the Loop, coming to a pause at the intersection of State and Randolph streets, where they encircled the intersection and took a knee.

For at least another hour, they continued marching up and down Michigan Avenue, calling for those on the sidewalk to join them in protest.

Giana Wheeler, 21, moved through the crowd Saturday, collecting contact information of other young marchers, hoping to get people involved in future protests.

“It’s important to make sure when we’re doing activism work, our work is not performative,” Wheeler said. “It’s not meant to make us feel good, it’s meant to actually create a change.

“We have to understand that the actions that we do right now will affect the next generation,” Wheeler added.

The downtown march was one of many protests this weekend, including several Black Lives Matter protests, including one Saturday in Logan Square and a march that included a stop at Chicago Police Headquarters, as well as other anti-violence events calling for an end to shootings in the city, including one sponsored by St. Sabina Catholic Parish.

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