A day after clashes between demonstrators and Chicago police left at least 18 officers and at least four protesters injured, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot promised action on a variety of fronts.
In a lengthy statement released to the press Saturday, Lightfoot condemned protesters who attacked police officers with frozen water bottles, rocks and fireworks, while also saying that reports of excessive force by officers were “unacceptable.”
The protest started as demonstrators marched against monuments dedicated to figures like Christopher Columbus, which have caused nationwide furor in recent weeks.
According to police, a group of those protesters turned around and began throwing objects at officers, leading to a confrontation that left multiple officers and several protesters injured.
Here is the mayor’s statement on the clashes, in full:
“Hundreds took to the streets yesterday to express their First Amendment right to protest. I unequivocally support and will always fight for the rights of individuals to peacefully protest on any issue. The history and stories of the lives of Indigenous People here in Chicago need to be lifted up and celebrated. There is a dialogue that must be had to honestly confront the deeply ingrained history of racism and discrimination that has subjected Black, Indigenous and other communities of color in our city and our nation for too long.
“For several weeks, my team has been working to develop a plan to pursue that public conversation, and to engage in a comprehensive review of our public icons to identify which should change, and where we need new monuments and icons to be erected to ensure the full, robust history of our city is told. The details of that plan are forthcoming, but please know that we hear and take seriously these questions.
“Unfortunately, last night, a portion of the protesters turned violent. A number of individuals came with frozen water bottles, rocks, bottles, cans and other gear to throw at officers. People in the crowd also threw fireworks and other incendiary devices at police, causing injury in several cases. These violent acts are unacceptable and put everyone at risk.
“There have also been several reports of excessive force by the police. These are also unacceptable. I have spoken to the director of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and she has assured me that COPA stands ready to address these complaints and will ensure that each of these is dealt with and investigated. We will not spare any resources to do so. If you believe you have been mistreated by the police, then I urge you to file a complaint through COPA or by dialing 311.
“This is a difficult moment in our history. I know Chicagoans are frustrated and impatient for change. 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. That would be consistent with the long history of peaceful protest in our city.”
Lightfoot encouraged all protesters who felt they’d been victimized by excessive force by police to file reports with COPA, and said that her administration is trying to address a variety of issues, including the statues of figures like Christopher Columbus that have sparked protests and demonstrations across the city.
Lightfoot said that her administration is conducting a review of such monuments, and will release details of the plan in the near future.
At least one dozen individuals were arrested and could face felony charges in connection to clashes between protesters and police.