CPD was on standby when University of Chicago police shut down pro-Palestinian encampment: Snelling

ByBarb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Tom Jones and Chuck Goudie WLS logo
Wednesday, May 8, 2024
CPD was on standby when U of C cops cleared pro-Palestinian encampment
University of Chicago police officers, not city of Chicago police as the school had apparently requested, went face-to-face with protesters overnight.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- University of Chicago police officers, not city of Chicago police as the university had apparently requested, went face-to-face with protesters overnight.

It is far from clear how this standoff developed.

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Mayor Brandon Johnson says it was CPD expressing "operational concerns." Chicago Police Department officials offered a much more elementary explanation.

"We're always ready to help out. If there's violence, if there's some type of vandalism or someone needs help, we're always going to step up when that's absolutely necessary," CPD Supt. Larry Snelling told the I-Team.

During our interview about security preparations for the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Snelling discussed growing concerns about the campus protests and demonstrations in public places focused on the Israel-Hamas war.

"If you look at the way the U of C police handled it, they handled it without any problems. But the Chicago Police Department is on standby. It's private property. There is a police department for that campus. They had a plan. They executed their plan. As the Chicago Police Department, if there had been help needed, we're always on standby," said Snelling.

SEE ALSO | COPA looking into complaints about arrests of pro-Palestinian protesters at Art Institute of Chicago

It was a different story this weekend at the Art Institute of Chicago, the famous Michigan Avenue home of some of the world's greatest art treasures.

Snelling told the I-Team why CPD was involved in breaking up the pro-Palestinian protest, arresting 68 people.

"They don't have a police department. It's private property. And there was a complaint signed. So, when we have a complaint signed for trespassing, now we have a responsibility to make sure that we go ahead and do the jobs that we need to do, to remove those people for trespassing," Snelling said.

U of C police had to go it alone against protesters, according to the strongly worded statement from Johnson. He said Chicago police had problems with the campus police plan.

Johnson said bluntly that Chicago police were unwilling to participate in the protest shutdown. But Snelling did not say that in our interview, and his spokesperson says he stands by his words.