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Police Took Dozens Of Bikes From Columbus Statue Protesters. Now, Riders Are Trying To Get Them Back

Police took 76 bikes, some of which they claim were used as weapons against police.

A pile of bicycles sits on Columbus Drive after police and protesters clash near a statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park during a protest in support of Black and Indigenous people on July 17, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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GRANT PARK — Dozens of people had their bicycles taken by Chicago Police officers Friday during the protest in front of the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park.

Now they are wondering where to find them — and one said her bike wasn’t abandoned, as police claim, but was violently ripped from her hands.

On Monday, police officials said in a statement many bikes were “abandoned” and several were “used as weapons or to facilitate mob action” against police. The department is figuring out a plan for owners to reclaim their bikes.

One protester, a 27-year-old woman from Uptown, said she rode to a meetup point near Grant Park and was walking her bike with other protesters when an officer took her bike without saying anything and pushed her to the ground.

The woman asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation.

“I was standing in the grass near the front of the line of protesters. I had both hands on my bike, just standing there, when a police officer seemed to pick me out randomly,” the woman said. “He walked several steps to get to me and then tried to yank it out of my hands.

“He started shoving me and eventually ripped it out of my hands and threw it behind him and then put both of his hands onto my body and shoved me to the ground.”

The woman said the officer didn’t say anything as she yelled for him to stop. She said she had to leave the park without her bike. She’s since reached out to the National Lawyers Guild of Chicago for help getting it back.

On Saturday, the National Lawyers Guild of Chicago posted on social media that they are “working to retrieve property taken by Chicago Police” but said they couldn’t provide an update until at least Monday evening.

Photos and video from after the protest show police throwing dozens of bicycles into a pile.

Linda Lutton, a reporter for WBEZ, tweeted Friday night her daughters’ bike was taken by police and they did not provide information “on how to get our stuff back.”

Other protesters have posted on social media saying their bikes were taken from them by police, as well.

Chicago Police spokeswoman Kellie Bartoli said in a statement police took in 76 bikes to prevent them from being stolen. Many appeared to have been trampled on before being confiscated, Bartoli said.

“We have recovered and inventoried 76 bicycles, many of which were used as weapons or used to tactically facilitate mob action in and around Grant Park on Friday, July 17,” according to the statement.

“However, many of the bicycles that were used as weapons against [police] officers were abandoned, making it difficult to distinguish the bicycles as discarded property or a criminal weapon.

“These bicycles have been transported to a secure location for detailed documentation of each bicycle serial number. We are in the process of developing a protocol to allow for the bicycle owners to reclaim their property in a safe, expedient and efficient manner.”

Organizers from ProtestBikeChicago and ChiResists took to social media to ask protesters not to contact Chicago Police for their property. Instead, they urged anyone who had a bike confiscated to email them for assistance.

ChiResists said on social media Monday it has raised more than $80,000 in donations to replace the confiscated bikes.

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