Police arrested several people after dispersing a crowd that sought to topple the statue of Christopher Columbus in downtown Chicago late Friday.
The Chicago Police Department said in a statement that officers took 12 people into custody following a large protest at Grant Park, where the statue is located.
Those who were arrested “could potentially face charges that may include battery to a police officer, mob action, and/or other felonies,” the department said.
A large group of demonstrators gathered around 4:20 p.m. local time at 301 S. Columbus for a protest, and they later moved south, eventually ending up in Grant Park and around the statue in the evening.
“As the group approached the Christopher Columbus statue, some members of the crowd turned on the police and used the protest to attack officers with fireworks, rocks, frozen bottles, and other objects,” the Chicago Police Department said.
The statue was not toppled although graffiti could be seen at the base of the monument. The city had covered the statue with plastic for several weeks, at least since June.
Protesters at the rally were calling to defund the Chicago Police Department. Black Lives Matter Chicago, Chi-Nations Youth Council, Black Youth Project 100, and other groups were the organizers behind the event, according to NBC Chicago.
“Officers were there to not only protect the property, but they were to ensure the safety of the protesters and their First Amendment right to protest peacefully when the crowd turned on the police, literally ambushed the police with all their projectiles,” Chicago police spokesman Thomas Ahern told the Chicago Tribune.