Seminary members march through Evanston after grand jury decisions in Missouri, New York


Paige Leskin/Daily Senior Staffer

Members of the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary march in the rain down Chicago Avenue on Monday morning. The demonstration, held to protest the grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York, caused police officers to divert car traffic to ensure participants’ safety.

Paige Leskin, City Editor

Members of the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary marched through Evanston on Monday morning, causing police to divert traffic on several streets near Northwestern’s campus.

The demonstration began around 8 a.m. with about 30 protesters standing in the crosswalk at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Sheridan Road. Participants walked south at about 8:30 a.m. on Chicago Avenue toward Clark Street and stood at police barricades singing songs and prayers.

The group then turned around and walked back to where they started. Police blocked them from heading back into the intersection near The Arch. Protesters moved to the sidewalk to march to the seminary at 2121 Sheridan Road.

Demonstrators held signs that quoted Biblical passages and read “Black Lives Matter.” On the way back to the seminary, the group repeatedly chanted “Christ can’t breathe” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Police initially asked protesters to move off the street to the sidewalk when the demonstration began, but then began to divert traffic around the demonstration. Evanston police and University police cordoned off Sheridan Road between Foster Street and Hinman Avenue, as well as Chicago Avenue at Clark Street.

Officers blocked off the streets to ensure the safety of the protest participants, UP Deputy Chief Dan McAleer said. Traffic was moving normally by 9 a.m., he said.

Although marching in the street and impeding traffic is illegal, police decided to give the protesters leeway to hold a peaceful protest, Evanston police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said.

Parrott said he understands that people “have a voice to be heard.” The group obeyed police directions and blockades and did not severely disrupt traffic, he said.

No one was injured or arrested due to the demonstration, police said.

The protest occurred after two separate decisions by grand juries — one in Ferguson, Missouri, and the other in Staten Island, New York — not to indict white police officers for the deaths of black men. The announcement came Wednesday that the police officer who placed Eric Garner in a chokehold would not be indicted. Wednesday’s decision and the grand jury decision in Ferguson from November have spurred nationwide protests.

The protesters in Monday’s demonstration included students, staff and professors at the seminary, said Nicole Anderson, a second year student at the seminary.

“When innocent black lives are killed … it disrupts their life,” Anderson said. “The least we could do is disrupt the life in a suburb so close (to those affected).”

The group decided to organize the demonstration after a discussion that took place in a class led by Prof. Stephen Ray, Anderson said.

Ray, who marched in the protest, said he asked students about bringing “goodness with a material reality” and that they responded by putting together the demonstration.

“I hope that the people who are out protesting remember … the power they have to stand up for goodness,” Ray said.

Following the march, the protesters returned to the seminary for prayer and a vigil. They plan to later meet with the Garrett-Evangelical Black Seminarians for further discussion on the events in Ferguson and Staten Island.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @paigeleskin