Protest in Chicago Park Leaves 18 Cops Injured

Demonstrators tried to yank down statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2020 6:30 AM CDT
Protest in Chicago Park Leaves 18 Cops Injured
Screenshot from video of the protest.   (YouTube/CBS Chicago)

At least 18 police officers in Chicago were hurt Friday during a clash with 1,000 or so protesters who converged upon a park and tried to yank down a statue of Christopher Columbus. The officers had been at an earlier rally in support of Black and Indigenous people "providing security and protecting [the protesters'] First Amendment right to peaceful assembly," per a Chicago Police Department statement cited by CNN. The Chicago Tribune lays out the timeline, which started around 4:20pm with the rally. Demonstrators then started marching down Columbus Drive around 7pm when word got out that the Columbus statue in Grant Park was being protected by police. That's when members of the group rushed the short stone wall that encircled the statue, hurling frozen bottles, rocks, and other objects at the officers, the department's statement notes.

CBS Chicago video shows fireworks being set off around the statue, while another clip from a Tribune reporter shows a man yelling, "This is not the way!" as protesters clash with police. Officers were pushed back, and one protester scaled the statue, which ABC7 notes was covered in plastic, and threw a rope around it. The crowd tried for about 30 minutes to pull the statue down, to no avail, but they did manage to cover it and the wall with graffiti. Police reinforcements arrived by 7:40pm, using tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd. Some of the 18 injured officers were treated by paramedics at the scene, while others were taken by paramedics to local hospitals; a Chicago Fire Department rep says five civilians were also hospitalized. Meanwhile, about a dozen people were arrested, with pending charges to include battery to a police officer and mob action, per the CPD statement. (More Chicago stories.)

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