The Chicago Police Department has opened an internal investigation into a video that shows an officer chasing down and punching a protester following a demonstration Monday night in Uptown — a scene a civil rights group called “horrific.”
The investigation comes after a downtown protest Saturday over the officer-involved killing of George Floyd devolved into chaos following a clash between police and demonstrators. Since then, continued protests have cropped up as a wave of gun violence, vandalism and looting has gripped the city.
In the video, posted to Twitter, dozens of officers are seen herding a group of protesters north in the 4600 block of North Broadway.
About 30 seconds into the video, after a glass bottle shatters and a loud thud is heard, an officer begins rushing toward a male traveling with the group. The officer weaves around other cops and protesters before pushing the male to the ground and striking him twice in the head with his fist as another person begins screaming. When another cop tries to grab the officer from behind, the officer swings his arm back and strikes his colleague’s helmet.
Moments later, officers are seen directing the crowd to continue moving north.
“Get the f - - - back,” an officer is heard yelling at the protesters.
The officer shown punching the protester hasn’t been identified, according to CPD spokesman Howard Ludwig, who confirmed the internal investigation and said the department “strives to treat all individuals our officers encounter with respect.”
“We do not tolerate misconduct of any kind and if any wrongdoing is discovered, officers will be held accountable,” Ludwig said, encouraging members of the public to report alleged police misconduct by calling 311 and filing a complaint with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the independent body charged with probing allegations of police misconduct
Ephraim Eaddy, a COPA spokesman, said the agency has also launched a preliminary “excessive force” investigation into the video.
On Wednesday, the ACLU of Illinois condemned the officer’s actions, calling for full investigations of recent misconduct claims lodged against CPD officers.
“The horrific use of force captured in this video is contrary to the city’s repeated claims that officers have used restraint, and is consistent with a pattern of reports from across the city during the course of the protests responding to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police,” said Karen Sheley, director of the ACLU of Illinois’ Police Practices Project.
“The CPD as a whole is responsible morally and constitutionally for these officers’ response to these protests, protests that reflect the anger and outrage of Chicago residents who are sick from seeing Black people murdered by police.”
Complaints against cops spike
Eaddy acknowledged that COPA saw “a significant increase” of civilian police misconduct reports this past weekend. The agency received 82 complaints between Friday and Monday, compared to 34 the previous weekend.
“But we were already beginning to see an increase that we could attribute to potential warmer weather, the holiday weekend [and the] stay-at-home order restrictions being relaxed,” Eaddy said.
Meanwhile, the person who was struck by the officer in the video doesn’t appear to have been arrested or accused of any wrongdoing in connection to the incident.
“There was nothing filed,” said CPD spokeswoman Sally Bown. “They would’ve filed an incident report against this report if they were going to arrest him for aggravated battery.”
Erica Kadel was at the same protest on Monday and recorded what happened after thousands of demonstrators splintered into smaller groups. Ultimately, she used Facebook Live to broadcast her own arrest near Montrose and Sheridan.
Posted by Erica Anna on Monday, June 1, 2020
“Uptown was attacked Monday night. Not by looters or protestors, but by the CPD,” said Kadel, who has been working for years with the Chicago Alliance Against Racial and Political Repression to advocate for the creation of a civilian police accountability council.
“What I saw, and recorded, was my neighbors being chased, brutalized, and kidnapped for the crime of existing while poor.”
In her videos, Kadel is seen questioning officers as they attempt to disperse protesters out past the citywide curfew. At one point, Kadel is threatened when she walks up to officers responding as protesters passed a Target store at 4466 N. Broadway.
“Get back,” an officer is heard saying. “You’re gonna get sprayed.”
UPTOWN NOWPosted by Erica Anna on Monday, June 1, 2020
Prior to being arrested later in the night, Kadel is seen on video asking for an officer’s name as another person is arrested. After she screams and repeatedly demands to know the officer’s name, one officer says, “You can go to jail, too.”
Kadel continued recording as she was placed in custody and taken to Area 3 headquarters, where she was charged with disorderly conduct and released the following morning.
“To me, it just seems like revenge,” she said. “Earlier in the day, there were 5,000 civilians and only several hundred cops in Uptown. And as the vast majority of the protesters moved out — and went elsewhere or went home — the balance tipped where there were still several hundred police officers and only 100 people in the streets who were civilians.
“As soon as that balance tipped, everybody seemed to be fair game.”