Protesters gathered near Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home Saturday evening, demanding a reversal of CPS’s proposed plan to return to in-person instruction in the fall, along with continued calls to remove police from Chicago Public Schools as well as defunding the police.
Police outfitted in full riot gear used tanks to surround the mayor’s block as protesters marched and called for change. Activist Alycia Kamil with the group GoodKIds MadCity, noted, “They come with war-ready tactics for some unarmed teenagers. It is ridiculous. I’ve become desensitized to war and scare tactics, which is so worrisome to me because I know it can only really get worse.”
Protesters could be heard calling out allegations of misconduct and abuse committed by some of the officers’ present. This has become the norm at some marches at protesters go online to look up the badge numbers of the officers in attendance.
Saturday’s protest was peaceful compared to Friday’s protest in Grant Park, where protesters, dressed in all black, attempted to tear down the statue of Christopher Columbus. Accounts from both the CPD and protesters report that Friday’s protest took a violent turn. CPD says they were assaulted with projectiles such as frozen bottles of water that resulted in 49 officers being injured and 18 needing hospitalizations. Activists claim that officers used tear gas on protesters and that officers physically assaulted some.
Protester Miracle Boyd, a member of the organization GoodKids MadCity, was allegedly hit in the face by Chicago Police at Friday’s protest and will be in attendance at a press conference set to be held today by GoodKids MadCity to discuss the events and conduct of the CPD at the Grant Park protest. Boyd’s assault is said to be caught on cellphone video.
Chief of Police David Brown held a news conference this morning showing a video of protesters hurling items at the police officers. It stated that they were caught off guard by the violence of the protesters. An investigation into Friday’s events has been opened by The Civilian Office of Police Accountability to investigate allegations of misconduct. The mayor released a statement saying, “It is my sincere hope that we can strike the right balance to ensure people can rightfully express themselves and their First Amendment rights, but to do so in a way that does not put anyone’s physical safety at risk.”
Paula J. Shelton is a freelance writer living in Chicago. Follow her on social media @beboldshineon.