Report details chaos of police response to protests, looting last summer

Report details chaos of police response to protests, looting
last summer 1

The Chicago Police Department was unprepared to handle the mass protests, unrest, violence and looting that followed the murder of George Floyd last summer, according to a new report released Tuesday morning.

The report was put together by Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor who’s in charge of overseeing court-ordered reforms to the Chicago Police Department.

The report details how officers rushed to stores and spent their own money to buy zip ties used in mass arrest situations. While other officers rushed to rent vehicles that would allow for proper transportation of cops to areas of potential unrest.

The 464-page report was compiled after numerous interviews with both police and protesters.

For many officers, after they were deployed, it wasn’t clear who was in charge or what exactly they should be doing, the report states.

One communication failure left a police vehicle on a bridge that was being raised to stem the flow of protesters downtown.

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“Even if the city and the CPD had predicted the level of protests and unrest after the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the city and the CPD did not have the policies, reporting practices, training, equipment, community engagement, or inter-agency coordination required to respond timely and efficiently,” the report states.

The city, Hickey noted, hadn’t dedicated sufficient resources toward responding to protests and potential unrest since it hosted the NATO summit in 2012.

The report states: “Some CPD leadership told us that they were sent to a location downtown, but there was no one there to provide further instruction when they arrived. In response, some supervisors and officers who responded downtown pushed crowds in various directions, and unsuccessfully, chased people who were looting from store to store. Others said that, without direction, they directed officers with them to not engage with crowds to avoid risking injuries to people in the crowd and themselves. As a result, they had their teams pull away from conflicts.”

It goes on: “Many city and CPD personnel told us that, once they received word of what was occurring downtown, they rushed to work and many officers self-deployed.”

The city’s standard approach of planning and preparing for large protests was inadequate for responding to quickly evolving mass protests that were often fueled by social media. As a result, the city was left “to improvise,” the report states.

Problems deploying the right number of properly equipped officers to the correct locations followed.

“Many officers were deployed without their equipment, including radios, body-worn cameras, or protective gear and also without provisions for their basic needs, such as transportation or access to rest periods, restrooms, food or water,” the report states.

The report said another consequence of being unprepared was the use of excessive force by officers.

“Some officers engaged in various levels of misconduct and excessive force, many instances of which are still under investigation,” it stated.

The report also detailed the response of community members who said they faced excessive force.

“We heard from many community members who expressed new fears, frustrations, confusion, pain, and anger regarding their experiences with officers during protests,” the report states.

“We heard from community members who participated in protests — some for the first time — who said that officers were verbally abusive toward them; pushed and shoved them; tackled them to the ground; pushed them down stairs; pulled their hair; struck them with batons, fists, or other nearby objects; hit them after they were ‘kettled’ with nowhere to go or after being handcuffed; and sprayed them with pepper spray without reason.”

This isn’t the first report that’s ripped the city’s response to the George Floyd protests.

In February the city’s inspector general released a highly critical report on the city’s ill-prepared response.

And the police department conducted its own “after action” report that laid out failures and how to improve.

“This report is not a blanket disapproval or approval of the city’s and the CPD’s responses to recent protests and unrest,” the report released Tuesday states.

“We believe that the city and the CPD can and must make immediate, deliberate, and transparent efforts — in compliance with the consent decree — to better protect and serve and to be accountable to Chicago’s communities.”

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