Chicago police released a shocking video which showed protesters aiming fireworks and frozen water bottles at officers while hiding under a canopy of umbrellas during a protest in Grant Park on Friday night.
The otherwise peaceful protest descended into chaos when it reached the park’s statue of Christopher Columbus as demonstrators used an assortment of dangerous missiles to push back cops.
Police say that 49 officers were injured as protesters they branded ‘criminal agitators’ attempted to clear the area so they could try to tear down the monument.
Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown claimed that the protest descended into a ‘mob action’ that ‘deliberately sought to injure officers’.
He added that members of the group could have been injured or killed if they have been successful in toppling the statue.
‘This is what our officers faced on Friday night at Grant Park. Criminal agitators pelted fireworks, frozen water bottles and other projectiles at our officers, injuring 49 of them,’ Brown wrote on Twitter Monday.
‘This is unacceptable and we cannot stand for this.’
Brown added that 12 people were arrested for charges including mob action, battery to a police officer and criminal damage to property.
‘We do not want to engage in violent clashes with protesters, but when the law is being broken, our oath demands that we act to uphold the law,’ Brown said. ‘The rule of law has always been, and remains today the essence of policing and the foundation of our democracy.
‘We deeply respect an individual’s right to peacefully protest and we will do everything we can to protect that right. But, we will not stand by, and in fact we are obligated to act, while City or private property is being damaged or while violent acts are being committed.’
The police department shared a six-minute long video to social media which showed the moment the peaceful protest turned violent as a group all wearing black and holding black umbrella began to pelt officers with fireworks and other items.
‘Chicago Police officers had fireworks, frozen water bottles and other projectiles thrown at them in what started as a peaceful protest,’ the department said.
’49 CPD officers were injured, and 18 were sent to area hospitals for their injuries during this violent mob action.’
The video starts with an aerial view of the protest as it made its way down Columbus to Grant Park.
As the protest stops at the park, it shows one demonstrator change into black clothing and join another large group, all wearing black and carrying black umbrellas.
Under the canopy of umbrellas, the group pushes to the front of the protest as it gets closer to the statue.
A protester in the back is highlighted emptying out what appear to be bottles or cans onto the ground, that other protesters can then use as projectiles against the police.
Officers stationed behind a barricade are then seen trying to pull the umbrellas from the group as more and more bottles and cans are thrown, until a firework erupts right beside them.
One officer is said to have suffered a broken eye socket from the shrapnel.
The video then moves to the other side of the statue, where cops are again trying to fend off the objects being thrown at them, including a firework that lands right between them.
Videos of Friday’s unrest comes as Chicago’s Mayor said Tuesday she would take President Donald Trump to court if he sent U.S. government agents to police their city.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot slammed Friday’s protest as ‘anarchy’ and said ‘we are going to put that down’.
‘We are actively investigating, and we will bring those people to justice. We want people to feel safe,’ the mayor added.
Yet she predicted that Trump would not follow through on a threat that has sparked widespread controversy over the use of federal force.
Trump has said he would send federal law enforcement to several cities including Baltimore, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia to crack down on protests against racism and police brutality ignited by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
‘Unfortunately there’s been a lot of saber rattling about that coming from the president and members of his team,’ Lightfoot told reporters. ‘What I understand at this point, and I caveat that, is that the Trump administration is not going to actually deploy unnamed agents in the streets of Chicago.’
Instead, Lightfoot said reinforcements which come from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will ‘plug into’ federal agencies already coordinating with the city on crime.
However, the White House administration said it is planning to send 150 federal agents to combat violence in Chicago, but for now is not saying which agency they will come from or what their mission will be.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told a briefing on Tuesday that dispatching agents was justified by a federal statute empowering the secretary of Homeland Security to deputize agents to protect federal property and people on that property.
‘It’s egregious what’s happening,’ McEnany said, rattling off a number of incidents where people who joined protests have thrown objects at officers.
‘President Trump is taking action in Portland, even though you have a Democrat mayor and Democrat governor unwilling to work with us in the situation. We are surging resources along with secretary [Chad] Wolf at DHS and augmenting the federal protective service to safeguard federal property,’ she said.
Chicago cops unleashed tear gas and charged at protesters later Friday night after they attempted to tear down the statue of Columbus.
At least four protesters were injured after chaos erupted when hundreds of demonstrators gathered around the Columbus statue and vandalized it with graffiti.
The protesters aimed fireworks at police guarding the statue to push them back before they tied the monument up with ropes and tried to drag it down.
CBS reported that at least a dozen people were arrested. One also sustained injuries.
According to WGN9, officers attempted to guard the statue but were hit with fireworks, bottles, full soda cans and other items and forced to back away.
They returned with pepper spray and clashed with protesters as authorities regained control over the area and pushed the demonstration away from the monument.
Protesters on bikes blocked of an intersection close by from around 9.30pm as they faced off with police and drove motorists away.
The large group was seen lining up along the four sides of the intersection in a circle as cars and emergency services looked on.
Protesters in the center were seen waving a large black flag as more demonstrators joined.
The main demonstration began earlier in the evening with rally planned for Black and Indigenous people in Buckingham Fountain, according to ABC 7 Chicago.
The group was calling for the defunding of the Chicago Police Department, saying the money should be invested in neighborhoods.
Hundreds gathered to hear speeches at about 5pm before peacefully marching toward Grant Park.
‘There is a long list of names that will never be a hashtag… we cannot be out here every single time they kill one of us… that’s why we need to have community control of the motherf*****g cops ,’ one speech said, according to reporter Grace Del Vecchio.
Some taunted the cops present by shouting, ‘You’re about to lose your jobs.’
Many traveled with bikes as they chanted ‘Black Lives Matter’ and held signs reading ‘Defund the Police’.
Cops lined the path being taken by protesters but the demonstration remained peaceful until it reached the Columbus statue and the fireworks were unleashed on officers surrounding the monument.
A heavy barrage of other items continued to be thrown at officers until they backed away.
As cops fled, protesters surrounded the statue pulling off the covering over it to vandalize it and begin attempts to pull it down.
‘Bring it down,’ was chanted as two groups tried to dismantle the statue.
Some shouted at those filming the attempt and the earlier vandalization to stop.
Protesters are now working to pull the statue down #ColumbusStatue #ChicagoProtests pic.twitter.com/qKkXFNxQXp
Chicago police quickly returned in greater numbers, however, and used batons and tear gas to beat back the protesters.
Protesters linked arms at they tried to stand down police but were eventually forced to move as more tear gas was used.
Angry clashes were seen as the protesters were herded out of the area and cops removed the ropes from the statue.
Video footage showed bikes being pulled from protesters by police officers as they were charged in riot gear and more fireworks exploded close by.
‘Who do you serve, who do you protect?’ protesters shouted as they backed away.
A large number remained watching outside the periphery, still choking on tear gas, as the Chicago police took control of the area.
A group then turned to Columbus Avenue where they continued a stand off with officers and planned to march back to Buckingham Fountain.
According to ABC7, four protesters were injured during the chaos and transported to a local hospital. They were said to be in a good condition.
Officers have now been told to wear their protective gear at all future protests.
Statues of Christopher Columbus have been torn town and targeted across the United States in recent weeks amid ongoing protests against racial injustice.
Columbus is seen as a figure of white supremacy and protesters are calling for his likeness to be removed from monuments.