CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot reportedly plans to remove the Christopher Columbus statue from Grant Park.
Last Friday night, 49 police officers were hurt in what police said were organized attacks. Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown said 18 officers needed treatment at the hospital.
Protesters were also injured. One woman said she had her teeth damaged by police officers while she was recording the scene.
The protest started as a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally downtown. The crowd eventually moved to the statue around 7 p.m. that Friday near Columbus Drive and Roosevelt Road in Grant Park. About 1,000 people rushed the statue, which is when the chaos ensued.
Protesters tried at one point to yank down the statue of Columbus. Columbus Day has in recent years been controversial because the day has been used to commemorate the Italian explorer who claimed to have discovered the region now known as the Americas in 1492. The area was already populated by indigenous people and some have argued that Columbus’ actions led to their genocide.
Those opposed to renaming the holiday argue that the day is meant for celebrating Italian heritage and historical contributions.
At last Friday’s protest, demonstrators at one point threw fireworks, cans and rocks at police officers who used batons. Some people climbed the wall surrounding the statue and some tried for 30 minutes to bring it down.
“They tear gassed real people,” one protester said. “They threw bricks at real people, and hit batons on real people to protect the statue. So when we say, ‘Who do you protect and who do you serve?’ It’s a statue of Christopher Columbus.”
Twelve people were arrested for mob action, and 20 complaints against police officers were filed with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
The Fraternal Order of Police posted on Facebook that this is not a good thing that the mayor is doing and that she is “once again, bowing down to the lawlessness of these anarchists.”