Following a now-controversial protest near a statue of Christopher Columbus last week in Grant Park, the Chicago Police Department on Monday released "pod cam" and body cam footage that top police officials said shows a peaceful march that turned violent and left officers injured.
Supt. David Brown said 49 police officers suffered injuries during the protest, and 18 of those officers were sent to area hospitals for injuries including a broken eye socket and a broken knee cap.
Four protesters were also hurt during the confrontation, which led local elected officials and activists this weekend to condemn the officers’ tactics. An 18-year-old activist, Miracle Boyd, said an officer knocked out her front tooth as she recorded the arrest of another protester.
Chicago's civilian police oversight agency, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, said Sunday it is investigating 20 complaints related to the protests.
Deputy Chief Daniel O'Shea on Monday screened video of the march, first showing protesters marching south on Columbus Avenue from Buckingham Fountain.
"Here you can see minimal police presence at this location," O'Shea said, noting police cars were behind the crowd to protect the group from traffic.
The video then shows the group starting to march into Grant Park just north of the Columbus statue heading into the park.
"Here's where we see the protests take a turn for the worse and turn into a riot situation," O'Shea said.
He said the group used large protest banners and open umbrellas as shields for people to change into all-black clothes and form a platoon. PVC pipe, much of it pre-sharpened, according to O'Shea, was taken out of the banners and fashioned into weapons "being jabbed at the officers up when they get closer to the statue." At one point, a man was seen dumping out various weapons for selection, including frozen water bottles, frozen cans "of different types of substances," rocks and fireworks.
At another point, an "incendiary device or an explosive device blows up" near a sergeant's eye, "and you can see him walk away holding his eye," O'Shea said.
Brown says officers’ oath demands that they protect property, noting, however, that people in the crowd "would have been seriously injured or killed by the toppling of the statue."
He also said there is an internal investigation into reports by Boyd.
"The vast majority of officers have been professional and have exhibited great restraint and have upheld their oath to protect lives, rights and property of our residents," Brown said. "What began as a peaceful protest at Grant Park Friday evening devolved into a very dangerous situation in which mob action deliberately sought to injure officers, provoke retaliation and damage property."
Brown noted that preliminary intelligence has indicated "there was some outside influence" in the group, but the department has yet to confirm details.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the violence was largely sparked by "a group of vigilantes- people who came for a fight."
"That's not peaceful protest," she said. "That's anarchy and we are going to put that down."
Brown also said protests that turn violent against police have forced him to require riot gear any time officers respond to a large gathering.
He added that mob action diverts police resources away from deterring violent crime in the city.
According to Chicago police reports, at least 70 people were shot, 11 fatally, since Friday evening in another violent weekend across the city.
Brown said police made 57 gun arrests and recovered 87 guns since Friday night. So far this year, police have recovered a total of 5,296 guns, he said.