LOGAN SQUARE — Hundreds of activists protested by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home Saturday, the day after clashes between police and protesters turned violent in Grant Park.
Though Saturday’s protest did not see the same level of violence, police injured several protesters when they drove onto a sidewalk and hit them with an unmarked car, activists said.
The demonstration started on Lightfoot’s block, where dozens of officers blocked the street and sidewalks but protesters gathered outside the barricades. They sang, chanted and danced, calling on Lightfoot to defund the Chicago Police Department, remove officers from schools and keep public school students learning at home when classes begin.
Lightfoot announced Friday the city plans to have most students back in school come the fall — with major changes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But protest organizer Taylore Norwood said having students in class would be a “death wish” for Black and Brown children. Black and Latino communities have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, she said, and police in schools could beat and arrest kids who are already suffering from trauma and PTSD.
“You’re sending these Black and Brown children to their death,” said Norwood, who organizes with GoodKids MadCity, an anti-violence youth group.
Norwood said Lightfoot’s absence at Saturday’s protest — and the large police presence which kept activists from gathering outside the mayor’s home — was a “slap in the face.”
“When people don’t want to deal with the truth, when the truth is ugly, you run,” Norwood said.
Norwood led the group in songs and chants, as did other organizers. They sang and passed out supplies, including water, so those who were part of the march could cool down and hydrate amid the 100-degree weather.
The group then marched through Logan Square. They took over the intersection of Kimball and Fullerton avenues, blocking traffic for more than an hour. Activists linked arms and put up barricades with their bikes to keep police and drivers at bay.
Protesters continued to chant, sing and speak to police officers who gathered around the protest. Some looked up officers online, reading off the number of complaints against that officer or the number of times that officer had reported using force.
The demonstration in Logan Square remained largely peaceful — a far cry from Friday, when police beat and used pepper spray on protesters as they attempted to tear down a statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park, and some protesters threw objects and fireworks at police.
But at one point, video shows, police in an unmarked car drove onto the sidewalk, hitting several protesters and their bicycles.
A Chicago Police spokeswoman said the officer in that car drove onto the sidewalk because he was trying to get to an officer in another car who had been surrounded by a large crowd.
The officer in the video saw a “clear path on the sidewalk and attempted to go down that path, and then while he was traveling on the sidewalk the crowd rushed the vehicle and surrounded him again,” the spokeswoman said.
The video was posted to a Humboldt Park Facebook group.
Video of police hitting protesters with an unmarked car:
No officers reported injuries from the incident caught on video, though a police car was damaged, the spokeswoman said. She said the department did not receive reports of protesters being injured by the driver.
But protesters in the video and on social media said several people were injured and bleeding.
Norwood said the activists in Logan Square were partly motivated to act out of the violence that happened Friday at Columbus Park. She said they want justice for Miracle Boyd, an 18-year-old activist with GoodKids MadCity who had her teeth knocked out by a police officer.
“How are we supposed to feel safe sending our kids to cops [in school] when just yesterday they punched a 5-foot CPS graduate and knocked her tooth out her mouth for peacefully protesting?” Norwood said.
And there were still moments that were tense Saturday: At one point, police told the crowd they must disperse or they would be arrested — but then did nothing. Police removed a woman from a truck, where she was watching over water for protesters, and blocked off the truck.
Officers surrounded the group on three sides at Kimball and Fullerton avenues, leading organizers to say they feared people would be arrested. Activists urged people to stay together and look out for one another, saying they were concerned officers would grab and arrest individuals.
But the group was able to march east on Fullerton before returning to Lightfoot’s home, continuing to chant.
The protest slowly broke up, with activists offering rides or help to strangers who’d also participated in the march.
Two people were arrested for disorderly conduct during the protest, a police spokeswoman said.
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