CHICAGO — Activists are demanding an apology from the Chicago Police Department Sunday after they say officers clashed unnecessarily with protesters Saturday night, while city officials say some in the crowd went to the demonstration intentionally trying to provoke the police.
Police and protesters clashed in downtown Chicago during protests downtown Saturday, leaving 17 officers injured and leading to two dozen arrests. At one point, tensions flared near Randolph and Dearborn as officers shoved the group back with shields and hit some protesters with batons.
It was just one of several heated moments throughout the night as CPD bicycle officers and others wearing protective equipment formed perimeters to control the movement of protests.
“The police showed up in riot gear, the police showed up with shields and kettled us last night,” activist Jasmine Martin said.
At one point, video shows a protester hitting an officer over the head with a skateboard several times. Authorities charged 25-year-old Jeremy Johnson with felony aggravated battery to an officer Sunday in connection with the incident.
Police said 24-year-old Nicoline Arlet was also charged with a felony count of theft for allegedly taking the body-worn camera from an officer, and 18-year-old Elena Chamorro was charged with one felony count of battery of a police officer.
On national television Sunday morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said a peaceful protest was essentially hijacked.
“What we’ve seen in cities all across the country, not just Chicago is a continuing wave of protests. The vast majority of these have been peaceful, but we’ve also seen is people who have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests and come for a fight,” Lightfoot said.
Chicago police released surveillance video showing what they said sparked the confrontation, showing protesters taking out umbrellas and putting on ponchos.
“The group deployed large, black umbrellas, changed their appearance and began pushing the officers and assaulting them,” Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown said.
Activist Ja’Mal Green says the police superintendent should be fired.
“We don’t know the length he will go to get his quote and quote, ‘law and order,’ and if it’s protesters being met with force, grabbed, hit this is not a superintendent who should be in charge,” Green said.
Bridges over the Chicago River were raised to keep the crowd out of the Loop. The CTA Green, Brown, Orange and Pink lines bypassed downtown from 9 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday morning.
At around 8 p.m., protesters said police issued an order to disperse — but then the protesters said they were blocked in at LaSalle and Adams. Shortly later, minors were allowed to leave first and then the rest of the protesters.
Both Brown and Lightfoot were quick to point out that the group which clashed with police was separate from the protesters who attempted to shut down the Dan Ryan on Saturday.
“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 just came to express their First Amendment rights,” Lightfoot said.
A group of protesters continued to speak out about what they called heavy-handed tactics employed by the police. They demanded the release of people being held at the CPD station at 51st Street and Wentworth Avenue Sunday, as a line of officers stood outside the doors.
“We’re not going to let them stand out here and attempt to intimidate us by coming out here,” activist Damayanti Wallace said.
The activists say they won’t stop demonstrating in the streets until their demands to redirect funding money that now goes to police into community efforts.
“We are young and we’re getting beaten on and we still come out the next day, and the day after that, and the night and the next month after that,” activist Alycia Moaton said.