VIDEO at Michigan Avenue and Cermak Road, and at Michigan Avenue and 21st Street where police clashed with protesters and arrested protesters Sunday afternoon.
After a rally and protest March, NATO protesters marched down Michigan Avenue with anti-war banners, anti-Capitalism banners and ‘Free Bradley Manning’ banners. Some marchers warned of loss of freedom and pointed to the police as signs that facism and oppression have come to the United States. The rally was scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, but was delayed. There were occasional scuffles of Black Bloc members with police along the march route, but mostly the march was peaceful.
The protest march was stopped at Michigan Avenue and Cermak Road, where police were determined to keep protesters from getting any closer to the NATO Summit venue at McCormick Place. Veterans, conscientious objectors and military deserters spoke of being ashamed of the imperialism of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. About a dozen veterans stood on a flatbed truck and spoke against the military and against war on a public address system; and tossed their medals into a lot on the southeast corner in the direction of McCormick Place. A group of anarchists with their signature flags and symbols filled the intersection, along with other protesters. When the mostly peaceful assembly was completed, police moved in to disperse the crowd.
Police requested that the crowd disperse, and did not waste any time sending the crowd west on Cermak Road from Michigan Avenue. Police officers on horses blocked eastbound Cermak Road from Michigan Avenue. Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy stood in front of the a flank of officers that were blocking any eastbound pedestrian traffic on Cermak. Some protesters sat in the street while hundreds of police officers in riot gear from the Chicago Police Department and the Illinois State Police moved toward the crowded intersection — walking southbound on Michigan Avenue to Cermak Road. Hundreds more police officers were also waiting on Wabash near Cermak — the next block west of Michigan Avenue. The clash occurred when some protesters insisted on moving east on Cermack Road toward McCormick Place.
The Chicago Police Department has acted professionally and with restraint as protesters refused to disperse.
— Spokesman for the Mayor’s Office
Just before the clash, police were after a Black Bloc member, who was arrested on Michigan Avenue between Cermak Road and 21st Street; but it was unknown why he was wanted. He was loaded into a police vehicle, while many other protesters arrested were loaded onto CTA buses.
Two police vehicles with LRAD devices (Long Range Acoustic Devices) and an Acoustic Hailing Device also moved into the area, but were not used, except to make announcements. The LRAD trucks followed police throughout the night when large crowds appeared closer to the loop. LRAD trucks can be used to make long range announcements (acoustic hailing device) or can be used as a sonic weapon. By the end of the day about 45 protesters were arrested and detained at a police station at Belmont and Western. At least four police officers were injured and several protesters were injured.
Paramedics and national news crews were also staged at Wabash and Cermak. Police effectively barricaded blocks of the area from any southbound pedestrian traffic after the clash. Hundreds of police also protected a Dairy Queen at Wabash and Cermak. Several business owners and agents watch calmly in the interest of their businesses. Agents of Tommy Gun’s Garage, 2114 South Wabash, watched their property while dressed in their roaring 20’s Chicago gangster attire.
Mobile response teams countered any conflicts with protesters as they dispersed. Some Chicago residents clashed with with protesters, calling them ‘weirdos’ and telling them to get out of the city. Protesters replied by getting out their cameras and warning that they will expose the Chicagoans on YouTube.
Police observing with helicopters and cameras on city corners were able to quickly identify disturbance. The response teams arrived within seconds or minutes of any crowds that developed on city streets. At least three helicopters patrolled the streets from the skies. A very mobile police force would respond on bicycles, white vans or marked and unmarked police vehicles. Police in CTA buses were also ready to be deployed to any disturbances involving large crowds.
Chicago Fire Department EMS crews also responded to incidents using bikes, rescue ambulances, or white vans. The vehicles were constantly on the move in the two-three hours following the clash, and as protesters dispersed north and west.
Later in the night police clashed with protesters at VanBuren Street and Wabash Avenue, near Boeing’s headquarters, on Michigan Avenue near The Art Institute of Chicago, and at other locations near the loop. Police were also determined to keep protesters from traveling north of the Chicago River along Wacker Drive. Garbage trucks and large snow plow trucks blocked strategic streets and alleys. In preparation, all garbage receptacles across the city were removed, apparently to prevent them from being used to start fires or to prevent them from being tossed to cause criminal damage to property.
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Protest clash video: Sara Flounders of the International Action Center claims that it is “inaccurate” and a “fabrication” to blame the violence on the protesters.