Police action was minimal during protests on Chicago's North Side compared to violent encounters over the weekend. Activists say that's because it's a white neighborhood.

insider@insider.com (Jonathan Ballew)
Thousands of demonstrators shut down part of Chicago's North Side in a protest that remained peaceful, on June 1, 2020.

Jonathan Ballew

  • On Monday evening, demonstrators shut down Chicago's Lake Shore Drive in protest of the police-related death of George Floyd.
  • The peaceful march was a stark contrast to the violent encounters that plagued the city's South and West Sides over the weekend.
  • "It's totally different up here," said one North Side demonstrator. "This [police] reaction is the same one we should have gotten downtown, out South, or West."
  • Nearly 1,000 people were arrested on Saturday and Sunday, most for looting.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

After a weekend of violent clashes between police and protesters in Chicago, Monday evening's demonstration on the North Side remained relatively peaceful.

Several demonstrators said the police response was vastly different than what they'd seen in the South and West Sides — traditionally African-American neighborhoods — because the North Side is a wealthier, whiter enclave.

"It's totally different up here," Cam O'Kelly, a black home-care worker from the South Side, told Insider. "This [police] reaction is the same one we should have gotten downtown, out South, or West."

"We didn't get this reaction," he added.

Cam O'Kelly stands in front of police officers in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood on June 1, 2020.

Jonathan Ballew

By 6:30 pm Monday evening, protesters had shut down the Uptown neighborhood near the Wilson Avenue CTA station.

Thousands sat on the main drag between a boarded-up Target and a former public school converted into high-priced lofts.

A wall of officers stood silently but made no move to engage the thousands of demonstrators demanding justice for the police-related death of George Floyd.

After several hours of speakers, the protesters were on the move. They proceeded along Lake Shore Drive, shutting down the highway and other major streets.

The police response over the weekend was markedly different: Officers had riot shields, pepper spray, tear gas, and zip ties. Scores of state police backed them up.

Law enforcement corralled, separated, and moved in on the crowd — shoving, pushing, and hitting protesters with batons and pepper spray.

Although the protest Saturday at Federal Plaza started peacefully, tensions escalated quickly, leading to a day of violence and gunfire culminating with a night of looting and property destruction.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot denied police had been deployed to cordon off the Loop and wealthy downtown neighborhoods.

"I want to be absolutely clear on this: There is no way we would let any neighborhood receive more protection than any others," Lightfoot said at a press conference Monday morning, according to WTTW.

Chicago police officers guard the Trump Tower in the Loop during a march to remember the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, on Saturday, May 30, 2020.

John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune Media via Getty Images

On Monday the police mostly observed, though several demonstrators were charged with breaking Lightfoot's 9 pm curfew.

As an organizer with Revolution Club Chicago, Niko Jones has been on the front lines of the protests since Friday.

"There is a divide," Jones, 28, said. "As soon as you get from the South Side to the North Side, it's an entirely different world."

Most protesters on Lake Shore Drive dispersed shortly before 9 pm. Several told Insider they were afraid of arrest or a violent encounter with police if they broke curfew.

Jones attributes the stark difference from Saturday to demographics.

"When you have a group of oppressed people on the South Side, with nothing at home, they feel like they have nothing and no way out, they get angry," he said.

"There is collective rage in the city's South Side and so the people lash out," he added. "The people with wealth may not be as angry."

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