Protesters Invade ‘Chicago Defender’ Office

By: Mark Fitzgerald

A chanting group of perhaps 50 people stormed into the Chicago Defender‘s newsroom Tuesday, overturning furniture and punching at least one person in a protest prompted by the black-oriented daily’s reporting of a police shooting.

“The physical damage was not that serious,” Defender Publisher Eugene Scott told E&P. “There was more psychological damage than anything else, people saying, ‘Are we safe here?'”

The Defender — with a newsroom that is immediately accessible to visitors of its landmark Moorish-style building on South Michigan Avenue — has tightened security. “We were probably the last open newspaper left in the city,” Scott said.

Employees said the group was upset that the Defender‘s account of a Dec. 7 shooting of a 24-year-old man by police in a public-housing complex included the police version of the shooting, but not statements from residents who said that the man was trying to surrender when he was shot.

Scott publicly offered to hear the protesters in an editorial-board meeting, but said late Wednesday no one had yet responded. He added he recognized some protesters as belonging to a political faction opposed to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom the paper generally supports: “This was related to the whole resurgence of protest. It was orchestrated.”

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