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Peaceful trash cleanup erupts into clash with Chicago police; Several arrested

CHICAGO -- A peaceful march through a South Side neighborhood earlier this week suddenly erupted in violence that included clashes with police that seem to come out of nowhere.

The marchers say it was the police who started it. The group is called New Era Chicago. It says its mission is empowering those who live in poor, African American neighborhoods.

They say everything they do is meant to be peaceful.

Two Saturdays ago, there was a gathering at 63rd and Ashland. The group gathered to pick up trash. The marchers say everything was peaceful until a large number of police moved in.

The marchers say they did nothing to provoke the confrontation. In fact, organizers are seen on video reminding members not to be confrontational.

But police are seen on the same video politely asking the marchers to stay off the road.

But the marchers say police followed them the entire time.

Police released a statement saying:

“(The Chicago Police Department is) committed to working with residents to protect their First Amendment rights and ensure their safety as well as that of the surrounding community. As is practice, officers were monitoring the gathering throughout the duration of the event to ensure the safety of the participants and community, and that roadways remained clear for vehicle traffic. CPD has attempted to contact the group's organizers to ensure future events remain peaceful and safe.”

There were several arrests.

The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating.