President of Chicago Police Board Says Police Struck Him With Batons During Protest

June 9, 2020 Updated: June 9, 2020

Chicago Police Board President Ghian Foreman said that he was struck by police in the legs multiple times with batons during a protest over the death of George Floyd on the South Side of the city.

Foreman, who was appointed to the police board in 2010, said Friday that while he was on a walk, he “coincidentally” became a bystander to a May 31 protest in Hyde Park “which became confrontational.”

He alleged that during the encounter, he was hit about five times in his legs with police batons by at least one officer, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Foreman, who has served as Chicago Police Board president since 2018, said sharing his experience with the public shows his position on police accountability “and that it seems ironic that someone in a public-facing position could also become a victim of police aggression.”

“It was chaos. It was a no-win situation on both sides,” Foreman said of the clash between police and protesters.

“Everyone lost their humanity for a moment,” he told WTTW, noting that at one point he tried to defuse tensions between protesters and officers.

He told the news outlet that the incident left him with two bruises on his legs, and that he witnessed officers hit many “young people in their mid-20s” with batons as they attempted to break up the protest.

“This is the duality I live with as a black man in America, even one who is privileged to be part of systems of power,” Foreman continued. “I am not exempt from what any other black man faces on the streets.”

He explained that the incident is under investigation by Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), noting that aggressive confrontations such as his own should be avoided.

Discussing Chicago police reform in his statement, Foreman said there is “important work” to be done, adding that the incident “is a great training opportunity.”

“If we are to improve police officer training, better educate them on deescalation techniques and develop a peer support program in the next 90 days as we have been asked to do, we cannot afford to lose focus now,” Foreman explained.

“We cannot allow the momentum of the uprisings to be lost by focusing on micro-incidents, but rather use that energy to demand accountability that we can see and feel.”

Between May 29 to the morning of June 5, there had been a total of 344 complaints made against Chicago police officers—including Foreman’s allegations—the majority of which traced back to protests over the treatment of Floyd, the 46-year-old Minneapolis man who died on May 25 while in police custody after an officer knelt on his neck, the Tribune reported.

Foreman said that by witnessing the incident from a “neutral perspective,” and from “both sides,” he was able gain a different perspective in terms of what needs to be done regarding police reform within the department.

“We all have to be part of the conversation,” he said.

The Chicago Police Department said in a statement that it will hold accountable any officer found to have participated in excessive force.