Twelve protesters were arrested and 18 police officers injured during an altercation Friday in Chicago’s Grant Park over a statue of Christopher Columbus.
“Hundreds of protesters rallied, crowding around the Columbus statue while trying to tear it down. The statue was still vandalized and tagged with spray paint,” according to Fox 32.
Dozens of police officers were sent to disperse the crowd, and authorities confirmed to the outlet that 18 were hurt and some sent to nearby hospitals for treatment.
“At Friday’s protest, demonstrators at one point threw fireworks, cans and rocks at police officers who used batons. Some people climbed the wall surrounding the statue and some tried for 30 minutes to bring it down,” WGN 9 reported.
Friday evening, the outlet tweeted aerial video footage of the incident:
Protesters launch fireworks and other items at Chicago police officers guarding Columbus statue in Grant Park pic.twitter.com/WCga8c47Ty
— WGN TV News (@WGNNews) July 18, 2020
The Chicago Police Department (CPD) later released a statement detailing the events:
At approximately 4:20 pm on July 17, 2020, a large group gathered at 301 S. Columbus for a protest. The group moved southbound into Grant Park with Chicago Police Officers providing security and protecting their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble. 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.
“At this time, there are approximately 12 individuals who were arrested and who could potentially face charges that may include Battery to a Police Officer, Mob Action, and/or other felonies,” the statement read.
Following the event, crews worked overnight to remove graffiti from the statue and also installed a fence to “prevent a repeat of what happened Friday night,” according to CBS Chicago.
— Vi Nguyen (@ViNguyen) July 18, 2020
Prior to the incident in Grant Park, a rally was held at Buckingham Fountain to call for defunding of the Chicago police, the Fox 32 report noted.
“The event was hosted by Black Lives Matter Chicago, Chi-Nations Youth Council, Black Youth Project 100, Chicago Alliance against Racial and Political Repression, among others,” the article read.