Up to 1,000 protesters flooded the streets of Chicago Saturday night, protesting NATO and spreading an Occupy Wall Street message.
The Chicago Tribune reported protesters and police clashed repeatedly, resulting in 18 arrests, according to the Associated Press. Still, the night was relatively peaceful and without reports of major damage as demonstrators marched and chanted for hours.
Large contingents of police officers were on hand, some in riot gear and others on bikes, but they generally let protesters remain in the streets, according to the Chicago Sun-Times:
At one point, a police van with sirens flashing drove down the middle of Jackson, forcing the marchers to disperse. A protester jumped on the front fender of the van, then got off, and someone screamed, “They hit him! They hit him!”
Before 10 p.m. an ambulance arrived and took away someone in a wheel chair.
Friends said it was Jack Amico, 24, of Staten Island, N.Y., who had been active in Occupy Wall Street.
Lauren DiGioia, 27, Amico’s girlfriend, said he was hit after “the police van started coming straight at us. It was moving slowly at first, and people in the crowd were trying to form a soft block to stop it from running people over. … The van accelerated when it got by me. It started speeding up. As soon as it went past me I turned and Jack was lying on the ground. He’d just been hit.”
WMAQ-TV captured this footage of protesters attempting to stop a police van, though it was unclear whether it was the same incident:
Other video posted online showed protesters marching through the streets chanting “1-2-3-4, no war but class war!” and “5-6-7-8, eat the rich and smash the state!”:
Earlier in the day, the first big confrontation of the summit week flared at Washington and State Streets when protesters tried to push through a line of police on bicycles. An officer went down, police in heavy garb and riot helmets moved in and several protesters were detained.
Later, a female protester tried to take a police officer’s bike. When a police officer grabbed her, other protesters came to try to free her. As the crowd surged toward the officers, at least one officer took out a baton and struck a protester. Another officer pushed a protester to the ground.
The Associated Press:
Organizers pledged a larger crowd when protesters from the Occupy movement will join forces with an anti-war coalition to mark the opening day of the summit later Sunday.
“We want the world to focus on NATO – they’re not important and have no mandate anymore,” said Micah Philbrook, an Occupy Chicago spokesman, who criticized the large police presence Saturday. “They’re pushing us around and not letting anyone get out of the protest even if they want. They’re very aggressive.”
McCarthy said police would be ready with quick but targeted arrests of any demonstrators who turn violent Sunday.
“If anything else happens, the plan is to go in and get the people who create the violent acts, take them out of the crowd and arrest them,” warned McCarthy, at the scene of protests after dark. “We’re not going to charge the crowd wholesale – that’s the bottom line.”
He said officers had been hit by batteries and bottles thrown by protesters during the day.
“You can’t control what other people are going to do, but I can tell you our cops are doing a great job, and they’re prepared,” he said.
The Associated Press:
After the clash near McCormick Place, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference that the protests of the NATO Summit resulted in 45 people being arrested and four officers suffering injuries — one from a stab wound in the leg. Those numbers seemed certain to rise as new clashes erupted later in the night.