Chicago police were ready for a massive protest in the city’s downtown that quickly went out of control Saturday night, arresting at least two dozen demonstrators who, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, came prepared for a fight.
Chicago police officers were following a large protest, hosted by several “anti-racism” and “anti-police brutality groups” — though not Chicago’s chapter of Black Lives Matter — that began on the city’s lakefront and then threatened to move north toward the city’s “Magnificent Mile” shopping district, which is still reeling from looting and rioting early last week.
After one officer was hit with a skateboard and another punched, the demonstration erupted into a clash between Chicago police and protesters, which ended with protesters being “kettled” and allowed out of the city’s downtown “Loop” business district only one at a time.
Sunday morning, CPD released footage of the altercation that set off the clash.
The following video footage shows the initial incident that sparked yesterday's violence and arrests, as well as the aggravated battery against a CPD officer with a skateboard. More video will be released throughout the day as it is received. pic.twitter.com/oW7Z3oGKSZ
— Chicago Police (@Chicago_Police) August 16, 2020
The video shows protesters advancing toward police on Michigan Avenue.
“Tensions flared near Randolph and Dearborn, where officers in riot gear were seen shoving protesters back with their shields, some of them hitting demonstrators with batons. Other video showed protesters hitting police officers with a skateboard and other objects,” WGN News reported. “It was just one of several heated moments Saturday night as CPD bicycle officers formed perimeters near Lake and Michigan. The bridges were raised over the Chicago River to try to keep the protesters from advancing through the Loop.”
Other social media videos show the police response. United in a single line with Police Superintendent David Brown at the lead, officers advanced on the protesters, pressing them first to the south and then to the west, until the demonstration was surrounded. Protesters were then released from the “kettle” one by one after being searched for weapons.
Everyone keeps going south. Protesters are now down at Lake/Michigan #ChicagoScanner #ChicagoProtests pic.twitter.com/XLGFa0hk4e
— Paige Fry (@paigexfry) August 15, 2020
Police blocked any exit from Michigan Avenue to the south with a line of police horses and patrolled the riverfront for stragglers trying to leave the protest by climbing down below street level and traveling along the Chicago River.
Where bridges aren’t raised…horses stand guard. 🐎
This was earlier in anticipation of protesters…a little further down at Wacker and LaSalle. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/NRlGDQBS1t
— Steven Graves (@StevenGravesTV) August 15, 2020
The protesters complained late Saturday that several demonstrators had been “unconstitutionally” arrested and were in CPD custody. Chicago police say they arrested 24 individuals who are believed to have taken part in attacks on officers.
“During a press conference Saturday night, Supt. David Brown said 24 arrests were made, including four felony arrests for battery of officers,” WGN continued. “Two protesters were treated for injuries and 17 officers were treated for injuries, CPD said.”
“An officer was beaten in the head several times with a skateboard,” Brown told reporters. “This group deployed large black umbrellas, changed their appearance, and began pushing our officers and eventually assaulting them.”
According to a social media post made by groups “Increase the Peace,” “BLCK Rising,” and “Good Kids/Mad City” – the same group whose leadership claimed last week that looting was a form of “reparations” – protesters were demanding that the Chicago Police Department leave Chicago public schools, that Chicago cancels an “ICE citizens academy,” that the city defunds the police department and allocate resources to “e-learning and community centers,” and that Chicago’s private colleges break their ties with ICE.
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot was unapologetic over Saturday night’s events.
“What we’ve seen is people who have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests and have come for a fight,” Lightfoot told CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday. “What happened yesterday was really over very quickly because our police department has resolved to make sure that we protect peaceful protests, but we are absolutely not going to tolerate people who come to these protests looking for a fight and are intending to injure our police officers and injure innocent people who have just come to express their First Amendment rights.”
Lightfoot added that Chicago officials are working with “federal partners” to get to the root of looting that caused an estimated $60 million in damage to city businesses last week, and called that incident a “planned attack.”