Protests turned violent in Chicago on Aug. 15 when demonstrators began attacking police officers with bottles, skateboards, and other objects, leaving 17 injured.
The day began with a peaceful protest, with no arrests or violent incidents, Police Superintendent David Brown said.
During a separate protest later in the afternoon, “multiple agitators” had “hijacked this peaceful protest,” he told reporters at a press conference. “This group deployed large black umbrellas, changed their appearance, and began pushing our officers and eventually assaulting them.”
Video footage showed demonstrators clashing with police. One man used a skateboard to repeatedly bash an officer on the head.
Officers used force and pepper spray to get the situation under control. They made 24 arrests, including four for felony charges.
Seventeen officers were treated for non-life-threatening injuries suffered from getting hit by objects and maced. Two protesters were treated at the scene.
Brown said the situation was “very, very difficult and tenuous” but added that he was proud of how the officers handled it.
Demonstrators disputed the police characterization. One told CBS Chicago that police mistreated the crowd, adding, “The fact that they’re pepper spraying peaceful protesters, the fact that they’re beating up peaceful protesters, they’re violating our right to assemble.”
Chicago deployed 1,000 extra officers to neighborhoods and retail areas before the weekend in preparation for looting and other crimes. Widespread looting and vandalism took place Aug. 9 after a police-involved shooting.
Officials detailed a range of measures officers might use, including deploying strips to stop cars that travel downtown to loot, with the help of Illinois state troopers and county law enforcement. Access to downtown is limited from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., while some bridges are staying up around-the-clock.
Forty-two people were charged with felonies related to the looting, Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx, a Democrat, said in a recent press release.
“I am committed to keeping our communities safe and continuing to collaborate with our law enforcement partners to demand accountability and seek justice for the people of Cook County,” she said in a statement.
One criminal was identified as Arron Neal. Officials said he live-streamed himself attempting to break into an ATM during the looting.
Detectives are still working to identify others involved in the mayhem, Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan told reporters on Aug. 15.
Officials urged people to visit a section of the website ChicagoPolice.org that features footage of different crimes being committed during the unrest.
“It will not work unless people go to our website, view the videos and give us tips,” Deenihan said.
Organizers of one of the demonstrations dubbed it the “Black Lives Matter” march. They called for 25,000 people to attend to shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway. The crowd instead bypassed the expressway and blocked traffic on other streets.
Another protest was arranged by March for Our Lives Chicago, in partnership with groups such as Good Kids Mad City and BLCK Rising.
According to a Facebook event page, the groups are pushing to defund the police and abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) federal agency.
Protesters want the police removed from schools in the city, the cancellation of the ICE Citizens Academy, the cutting of ties between Chicago colleges and ICE, and the reallocation of funds toward “E-learning and community centers.”