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Amid weekend shootings, violent protests take cops away from South, West sides: CPD

CPD Supt. David Brown said Monday he has ordered all officers assigned to protests to wear “any and all” protective gear.

Chicago Police Department leadership on Monday sought to highlight the attacks on officers during a violent confrontation at the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park.

After showing six minutes of video footage captured during the clash Friday, Supt. David Brown repeatedly stressed violent protests force the department to divert resources from the South and West sides, where shootings are most prevalent.

Seventy people were shot over the weekend, 10 fatally, according to a log maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times. Ten minors were hit by gunfire, keeping with an alarming recent trend in which young children have been shot throughout the city.

“Let us redirect our anger to the loss of life on the South and West sides of Chicago,” Brown said.

Video footage of the clash in Grant Park shows CPD officers wearing little more than their standard uniforms, and Brown said the department will no longer assume future protests will remain peaceful.

In light of Friday’s events in Grant Park — where blunt objects, sharpened PVC pipe and incendiary devices were weaponized against police — Brown said he has directed all officers assigned to protests to wear “any and all protective gear when a protest occurs because of these mob actions.”

“We must protect our officers,” Brown said. “We cannot assume that the protests are going to be peaceful based on these actions and others.”

All told, Brown said, 49 officers were injured, with 18 requiring hospitalization. A CPD sergeant’s eye was hurt by an incendiary device and the sergeant may need surgery.

The confrontation at the Columbus statue was part of a nationwide wave of demonstrations that seek to remove controversial monuments.

While Brown repeatedly voiced his support for the “sacred” First Amendment rights that ensure citizens’ free speech, he said, “these peaceful protests are being hijacked” by people who seek to commit violence and provoke “violent responses from our officers.”

While Brown offered a strong defense of the tactics used by officers at the statue, activists and some local officials have been largely critical of the department’s response.

Video footage posted to Twitter shows an officer punching 18-year-old activist Miracle Boyd in the face, knocking out several of her teeth.