Chicago, IL (AP) – As violent rioters caused chaos in Grant Park near a Christopher Columbus statue, police tried to restore order to a crowd of over one-thousand on Friday.
After a rally and march, which called to defund the Chicago Police Department, the scene became chaotic. The protesters started at Buckingham Fountain and then moved to the Columbus statue. According to a video posted on Twitter, protesters surrounding the statue were shouting “Columbus was a murderer. Columbus was a thief.” Some members of the crowd threw two lines of rope around the figure, in an apparent attempt to topple it. A half-hour long attempt to yank down the statue failed.
As conditions worsened, dozens of police officers were dispatched and reassigned from across the city to the park. Objects begin to fly toward the arriving police as they tried to get control of the mob. At first, the police were pushed back, but eventually law enforcement deployed what appeared to be pepper spray. Chicago’s finest were able to remove those inside the wall surrounding the statue and circled the perimeter.
As officers moved down the hill, they were able to push aside the bike-wielding protesters trying to stop them. The standoff shifted to north of the statue, as the crowd, still out-numbering the cops, began clapping in unison despite having a few hundred people leave by that point. Though the statue remained standing by the time the crowd left, it and the surrounding wall were sheathed in overlapping anti-police graffiti messages.
“Officers were there to not only protect the property, but they were to ensure the safety of the protestors and their First Amendment right to protest peacefully when the crowd turned on the police, literally ambushed the police with all their projectiles,” said Chicago police spokesman Thomas Ahern.
A total of 18 police officers were injured at the scene. Some required treatment at hospitals. A Chicago Fire Department spokesman confirmed at least four Chicago police officers were taken to the hospital for injuries after bricks and other items were thrown at them. About a dozen rioters were arrested and face pending charges ranging from battery to a police officer to mob action.
In a video posted by Lasse Burholt, police are shown being berated with objects from the “peaceful” protesters. How would you like to be told to stand down and not respond? There are still certain groups wanting to defund police departments across the nation, while they take this kind of abuse trying to “protect and serve” and do their jobs. In fact, this event began as a rally to defund the Chicago Police Department and was organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago and Chi-Nations Youth Council.