Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown is ordering his officers to wear “any and all protective gear” during future protests in the city following a mob assault Friday against police guarding the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park.
During the Friday incident, officers were not wearing riot gear or carrying shields.
Officials said 18 officers were hospitalized for injuries received in the attack, another 31 officers suffered less serious injuries. A dozen people were arrested.
Superintendent Brown said officers faced organized mob action “designed to provoke violent responses” during a protest that started peacefully but turned violent, WTTW reports.
The CPD published a six-minute compilation of surveillance footage Monday morning, which it said shows some members in the protest using umbrellas to shield others as they changed into black clothing and masks before pelting officers at the statue with rocks, frozen water bottles, fireworks, and other items Friday night.
Area 3 Deputy Chief Daniel O’Shea said protesters pushed carts and carried bags filled with items to throw at police, while others used sharpened PVC piping to jab at officers around the statue.
Activists said police used tear gas on the crowd and beat some participants. On Sunday, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability said it had received more than 20 complaints of police misconduct stemming from the protest, including allegations of excessive force, denial of counsel, operations violations and the unnecessary use of "oleoresin capsicum," also known as pepper spray.
Asked about those incidents Monday, Brown stated simply that his department will conduct “a thorough investigation of any and all allegations” of police misconduct.
“I want to be clear, the Chicago Police Department does not want to engage in violent interactions with peaceful protesters,” he said. “But when the law is being broken, or has been broken, our oath demands that we act. This is not a choice for our officers, this is a requirement of our oath. Even if that means protecting a statue.”