LIGHTFOOT SAYS ‘PEOPLE WHO CAME FOR A FIGHT’ HIJACKED GRANT PARK PROTEST
Lightfoot says ‘people who came for a fight’ hijacked protest of Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park
Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday accused a small group of “vigilantes — people who came for a fight” of “hijacking” an otherwise peaceful protest Friday night at the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park.
Lightfoot said people have a right to “peacefully protest” in this country and this city. It’s a “sacred right” enshrined in the First Amendment, she said.
She noted the focus of the march was supposed to be to “uplift the stories of indigenous people” in Chicago, an effort she fully supports.
“Unfortunately, what we saw … is a group of vigilantes — people who came for a fight, not a peaceful protest. You’re gonna see video that shows these people before they got to the Columbus statue kneeling down, dressing in all black with goggles, forming a phalanx with umbrellas and with shields around them and then pummeling police with projectiles,” Lightfoot said.
“Frozen water bottles, cans, other projectiles. There were a number of police officers that were injured as a result of that. That’s not peaceful protest. That’s anarchy. And we are going to put that down. We are actively investigating. And we will bring those people to justice.”
Saying that parents are “allowing their teenaged children to come down to these protests,” Lightfoot said: “We can’t have a circumstance where a small subset of that try to take over and hijack the peaceful protest, then turn it into a fight with the police. That’s not acceptable.”
The mayor said she is “not happy about some of the things that I saw with people who were injured” in alleged confrontations with the police. She also is “not happy” with reports of police interfering with reporters doing their jobs. Lightfoot encouraged anyone who believes they were mistreated by police to call 311 or report the alleged abuse to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
On Monday evening, a group of about 50 protesters gathered at the Columbus statue and called for its removal. The statue was covered in a plastic tarp and surrounded by a chain link fence.
The protesters ridiculed and nearly bumped up against a group of about two dozen police officers who stood on the outside of the fence in riot gear. After about an hour, demonstrators made the short walk to the intersection of Roosevelt and Columbus and blocked traffic.
“It is time to remove this statue of white supremacy,” activist Ja’Mal
Green said Monday while addressing reporters before the demonstration.
Last month, Lightfoot said Chicago statues of Columbus, vandalized repeatedly since the death of George Floyd, should not be torn down but rather used to confront the nation’s history and trigger a “reckoning” that’s long overdue.
Yet after the Friday night standoff, she said her team has been developing a plan for a “comprehensive review of our public icons.”
If that sounds like a change, it shouldn’t, Lightfoot said. She’s simply recognizing what’s missing.
“There are no monuments to African Americans in this city. There are no monuments to women. There are no monuments that reflect the contributions of people in the city of Chicago who contributed to the greatness of this city, and we need to correct that problem,” the mayor said.
Chicago police protect the statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park on Friday as protesters crowd around and projectiles fly through the air.
Many protesters have reported being injured by Chicago police during Friday’s confrontation in Grant Park. More than 20 complaints have been filed with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.