Chicago police defend response to weekend protest clash downtown as protesters demand apology

CPD, protesters release videos of clash

ByJohn Garcia and Alexis McAdams WLS logo
Monday, August 17, 2020
CPD defends response to weekkend protests, protesters demand apology
The Chicago Police Department is defending its actions at a downtown protest Saturday, but protesters continue to demand an apology for what they say was excessive force and escala

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago protesters are demanding an apology from police after clashes with CPD in the Loop over the weekend, which resulted in 24 arrests, while Superintendent David Brown is defending the response by officers.

Chicago police released POD camera footage of the chaos, saying their officers were attacked. But protesters have also released their own video clips showing responding aggressively, with violent force, to protesters.

Dozens were arrested and several were hurt, including 17 police officers as protesters clashed with police Saturday in the Loop.

Video captured Saturday night by a demonstrator shows chaos between protesters and police downtown.

The video shows Chicago police blocking off the crowd near Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive before they pull a man down, later beating him with a baton multiple times.

In the video, protesters approach a line of police in riot gear, donning orange plastic and opening umbrellas allegedly to hide their identities and actions from police and cameras. One protester can be seen hitting an officer in he head with a skateboard.

"I want to recognize our officers for maintaining professionalism and composure despite being pelted with projectiles on Saturday night," Brown said at a press conference Monday. "I stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the ground with the men and women in blue witnessing the verbal abuse and dodging bottles and other street debris."

Brown said four of the 24 people arrested have been charged with felonies. He praised his officers for defusing the confrontation that they said could have spun out of control but some protesters said they believe it did, and that it was police who caused the confrontation.

"We were there with plans to peacefully protest until we were met with aggressive police force and excessive force by all the police officers," said Arias Benitez of the group Increase the Peace.


Several protesters were arrested and at least one was hurt after a clash with Chicago police in the Loop Saturday.

"I was spit on, pepper-sprayed and beaten with batons," said Aziz Hasuna with Increase the Peace.

Protest organizers released their own videos, showing police responding aggressively to protesters, including officers pulling a person to the ground and throwing punches. Multiple protesters said they were beaten and even spit on by police.

A group of elected officials have signed onto a statement complaining of overly aggressive police actions led by the mayor's office.

"We don't need a militarized force led by Chicago police to intimidate and to arrest the movement," said Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson.

The protesters are demanding an apology from police. Brown said it's not likely they will get one.

"I saw officers remain calm, keep their professionalism and take only appropriate action when confronted by violence," Brown said.

Brown said it was outside agitators that started the chaos which lead to 17 officers injured and 24 arrests. The Good Kids Mad City group who organized the protest said that wasn't the case

Brown said police did use pepper spray on the crowd but stressed tear gas was never used.

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown addresses the violent clash between police and protesters over the weekend.

At least four people are facing felony charges from Saturday's protest, including 26-year old Columbia College student Jeremey Johnson, who allegedly struck the officer with a skateboard.

Johnson is due in bond court Monday. He's charged with felony aggravated battery to a peace officer.

Mayor Lightfoot said Chicago police are resolved to protect peaceful protests, but the city will not tolerate those looking to cause trouble.

Lightfoot told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that agitators "have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests and come for a fight" though the clashes were "over very fairly quickly because our police department is resolved to make sure that we protect peaceful protests."

On Sunday morning, CPD tweeted a video of the clash with protesters and said "The following video footage shows the initial incident that sparked yesterday's violence and arrests, as well as the aggravated battery against a CPD officer with a skateboard. More video will be released throughout the day as it is received."

In later tweets, police announced that, "Jeremey Johnson, 25, has been charged with felony aggravated battery to a peace officer after repeatedly striking a #ChicagoPolice officer in the head with a skateboard at yesterday's downtown protest."

"The officer, who was wearing a protective helmet, sustained minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital. This is just one example of how our #ChicagoPolice officers continually risk their own safety to protect this city and its residents," police said.

Police allege another man lunged into the police line, leading to chaos and arrests, and that water bottles and other objects were thrown at them.

Lightfoot praised city police Sunday for "fairly quickly" settling weekend protests that devolved into violent skirmishes while activists and other elected officials blasted police for unnecessarily aggressive tactics.

The day of demonstrations against police brutality started peacefully Saturday with a march around noon. Later, a separate demonstration near downtown resulted in two dozen arrests, 17 injured officers and at least two injured protesters. None of the injuries were believed to be life threatening.

Lightfoot told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that agitators "have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests and come for a fight" though the clashes were "over very fairly quickly because our police department is resolved to make sure that we protect peaceful protests."