A neighborhood cleanup erupts in violence and organizers say police are to blame

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CHICAGO, Ill. -- A peaceful march in Chicago's South Side erupted in violence and marchers say the police are to blame.

Two weeks ago, a group called New era Chicago was trying to clean up the streets of Englewood. The group says its mission is empowering those who live in poor, African American neighborhoods.They said the day was about helping the community but police followed them and antagonized them along their clean up route.

When they got to 63rd and Ashland the situation turned violent, with police requesting emergency assistance over the radio.

Eight people were arrested.

The group captured video of the incident, saying it supports their recollection of the day.

In the video, organizers are seen reminding members not to be confrontational.

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

"It seems as if they came to agitate the situation rather then diffuse whatever they wanted to diffuse..." said Taji Gaines, a member of New Era Chicago.

"We know the work we do is positive in our community, we have no intention of giving up at all," added Eric Mobley, another member of the group.

Police said they were just doing their job and wanted to keep people off the road ways so traffic didn't get interrupted.

They 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.”

The independent Police Review Authority is now investigating the incident.

New Era Chicago says they may seek legal counsel.



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