Chicago police release video showing confrontation near Grant Park Columbus statue protest

ByCraig Wall and Jesse Kirsch WLS logo
Monday, July 20, 2020
Police release video of Grant Park protest confrontation near Christopher Columbus statue
Police said the video shows a person dumping out a backpack with what appear to be frozen water bottles, which they said were then thrown at officers.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago Police Department has released video from last week's protest at Grant Park near the Christopher Columbus statue that ended with several officers hurt.

Police were caught off-guard by the violence and 49 officers were injured after projectiles and fireworks were thrown at them. Eighteen had to be treated at area hospitals, and officers have now been ordered to wear their protective gear at all future protests.

"What began as a peaceful protest at Grant Park Friday evening devolved into a very dangerous situation, in which mob action deliberately sought to injure officers," said CPD Superintendent David Brown.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown discusses the protests at the statue of Columbus in Grant Park and weekend violence in the city.

The police video showed one person dumping out a backpack of what appeared to be frozen water bottles, which were then thrown at officers. Demonstrators also threw fireworks, and police said one sergeant suffered a broken eye socket from the shrapnel.

Police said the PVC pipe used to hold the Black Lives Matters banners had been sharpened, was taken out and then used to jab at officers.

Protest escalates near Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park

"That's not peaceful protest, that's anarchy, and we are going to put that down," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. "We are actively investigating, and we will bring those people to justice. We want people to feel safe."

"Peaceful demonstrations have been hijacked by organized mobs," Superintendent Brown said. "We just don't want to believe people would act this way toward us. That they would take advantage of us. That they would take advantage of our sacred right, the First Amendment...I have ordered all of our officers to wear any and all protective gear when protests occur."

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Members of the City Council's Progressive Caucus focused their criticism on police who were accused of punching 18-year-old protester Miracle Boyd in her mouth, knocking out her tooth.

"We need to change our way to approach public safety, the way that we approach this kind of situation, because we can't have teenagers - exemplary teenagers - being brutalized, you know, participating in their freedom to speak," said 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez.

Supt. Brown said officers will now approach every protest as though it could turn violent. He was asked if the organizers knew some people were planning to attack police.

"God I hope not, but it sure looks like it," he said.

ABC7 Eyewitness News reached out to Black Lives Matter Chicago to respond to the comments from CPD and the mayor, but they have not yet responded.

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Supt. Brown also said needing more officers for such mob action takes resources away from combating violence on the city's South and West sides.

He also warned peaceful protestors that attending rallies may lead to your motives being quote hijacked and stressed that if that Columbus statue had been toppled, someone could have been killed.

Twelve protesters were arrested Friday. The superintendent said initial intelligence suggests there was "outside influence" behind the violence.