The tiny white bulbs lit up the black boards and spelled out their cause. L-A-Q-U-A-N.
The signs were in memory of Laquan McDonald. The 17-year-old was shot last year by a Chicago police officer – 16 times within 30 seconds.
The six people holding the letters were among hundreds of protesters in the Midwest U.S. city where, earlier in the day, dashcam video of the shooting was released.
A journalist had filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to make the video public and a court ordered it released Tuesday.
The video shows McDonald briskly walking down the middle of a street. There is no audio. Officer Jason Van Dyke fires his gun and continues firing after McDonald drops to the ground.
Protesters spell out the name of Laquan McDonald, who was shot in a video recently released by police, Nov. 24, 2015. (C. Presutti/VOA)
Van Dyke was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the October 20, 2014, incident.
The shooting is reminiscent of other racially connected police incidents involving white police officers and black suspects.
A year ago this month, residents rioted in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white police officer was not charged in the shooting death of an 18-year-old black man.
In April of this year, Baltimore, Maryland, police arrested 25-year-old Freddie Gray. The black man died after being transported to jail in police custody.
Both deaths sparked riots that continued for weeks as city leaders hastily scheduled civil rights meetings and pleaded for calm.
Chicago by night
Some Chicago residents walked for more than six hours overnight protesting the police shooting.
Authorities form a line to prevent protesters from entering an expressway in Chicago, Nov. 24, 2015. Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is white, shot Laquan McDonald, who is black, 16 times last year and was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday.
At one point, marchers formed a circle blocking a large intersection. Others lay in the middle of the street, refusing to move to the sidewalk when requested by police.
At another point, the demonstrators closed down an interstate highway with their march.
"I'm tired," one protester said. "I've done a whole lot of these streets. I've been in every march and I'm tired."
Mayor preaches calm
Earlier Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appealed for nonviolence as he released the video, hoping to prevent the violent and destructive riots of Ferguson and Baltimore.
"The future of the city lies in every one of us," Emanuel said.
Several hundred people protesting on the streets of Chicago over a police video showing a white officer shooting a black teenager 16 times, Nov. 24, 2015. (C. Presutti/VOA)
The protest was peaceful until police took someone into custody. Then scuffles began. They would build up and die down, causing one protester to warn of more violence.
"We waited for this tape to come out and you see a lot of angry people. But when angry people are too calm? It's just too calm," he said.
Some protesters taunted police, who stood by stoically. They controlled the perimeters of the protesters with officers on bicycles.
Hot tempers continued to flare in one corner of the street. Another area was more peaceful.
Another group began walking again, promising they would return tomorrow, after dark.