An 18-year-old black protester was just punched in the face by police in Chicago, Illinois during a protest calling for the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue.
Around 1,000 people gathered around a statue in Grant Park on Friday, and it quickly turned violent, with police clashing with the rioters and beating them with batons. Activist Miracle Boyd, 18, had just gotten done addressing the crowd when she said she got into an argument with a cop.
As Boyd began recording the altercation, she alleged that the cop took a swing at her and hit her in the face.
“My tooth was knocked out. I have lip abrasions in my mouth. My teeth hurt really bad,” she told ABC7.
Boyd went on to accuse officers of stealing her phone. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has since responded to this in a brief statement.
“I unequivocally support and will always fight for the rights of individuals to peacefully protest on any issue… Unfortunately, last night, a portion of the protesters turned violent,” she said. “These violent acts are unacceptable and put everyone at risk… There have also been several reports of excessive force by the police. These are also unacceptable, and (COPA) will ensure that each of these is dealt with and investigated.”
Damanyati Wallace, who also attended the rally, said that she helped Boyd get medical attention for her injuries.
“We weren’t harming anyone, regardless of what they were doing,” Wallace said. “If they were popping fireworks, smoke bombs, throwing water bottles, that’s a statue. That’s an inanimate object. There was no real violence.”
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown also addressed the situation in a statement posted to Twitter.
“We deeply respect an individual’s right to peacefully protest and we will do everything we can to protect that right,” Brown tweeted. “But, we will not stand by, and in fact we are obligated to act, while City or private property is being damaged or while violent acts are being committed.”
“We do not want to engage in violent clashes with protesters, but when the law is being broken, our oath demands that we act to uphold the law,” he added. “The rule of law has always been, and remains today the essence of policing and the foundation of our democracy.”
Approximately 18 officers were injured as a result and 12 individuals were arrested for charges including mob action, battery to a police officer and criminal damage to property.
— Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown (@ChiefDavidBrown) July 18, 2020