Update 4:05 p.m. — Subsequent to publication, the Chicago Fire Department said five members of the public were transported to hospitals for treatment from the protest area on Friday evening.
Police arrested at least 12 people and 18 cops were injured Friday evening when a protest turned violent in Grant Park, according to Chicago police. The march appeared to be infiltrated by organized and violent cells, according to a CPD source. Later, a large group of looters raided a store on the Magnificent Mile, police said.
A large group gathered at 301 South Columbus around 4:20 p.m., but police supervisors immediately noticed something different about the group — none of the marchers claimed to be a leader. As a result, CPD was unable to co-ordinate a march route, according to information from the scene.
As the group neared the Christopher Columbus statue at 7:20 p.m., officers reported seeing protesters changing into all-black clothing and masks. Within five minutes, members of the crowd were throwing frozen water bottles, rocks, fireworks, and other objects at police, according to a CPD statement.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown authorized the use of pepper gas to disperse the crowd at 7:51 p.m. — nearly 30 minutes after the melee began.
Moved in hitting ppl and press pic.twitter.com/iQggtCim1x— Dominic Gwinn (@DominicGwinn) July 18, 2020
Protesters tied ropes around the nearly 90-year-old Columbus statue, but police managed to prevent them from pulling it down.
Some of the 18 injured officers were treated at the scene. Others were transported to hospitals, according to a CPD statement. The police department did not say how many non-police injuries were reported.
The police department was not fully prepared for the incident, according to multiple officers who were involved. Among other things, neither of CPD’s two helicopters were in service on Friday — a questionable decision for any summertime evening with clear skies. Around 8 p.m., the fire department deployed its helicopter to try to fill the gap.
Officers also pointed out that the police department relied on citywide tactical, gang, and saturation teams to quell the violence. Those teams are scheduled to be disbanded next week in favor of smaller “summer mobile” and “strike force” units that will also participate in weekly community service projects.
After the Grant Park stand-off concluded, a group of between 50 and 80 people looted a retail store in the 900 North Michigan shopping mall at 11:51 p.m., according to Chicago police.
Looters broke display windows, entered a department store, and took merchandise, police said in a media statement. The Salvatore Ferragamo store’s front window was shattered when a CWBChicago reporter walked past the scene around 1 a.m.
No one is in custody for the looting.