70 reports of police misconduct on Sunday at NATO protest, says National Lawyers Guild

By: 
Yana Kunichoff | The Chicago Reporter

Now that the barricades are cleared from the streets, downtown traffic has resumed its sluggish pace and thousands of workers in the loop no longer have an excuse to take a day off, what is the legacy of the massive Sunday protest that brought out an estimated 15,000 people?

One lasting effect, on both the city and the protesters, is how the Chicago Police Department behaved over the much-hyped weekend.

According to Sarah Gelsomino with the National Lawyers Guild and the People's Law Office, the NLG received 70 separate claims of police misconduct from Sunday's events.

"The majority of those incidences are baton strikes to the head and face," said Gelsomino. "We saw broken collar bones, broken arms, teeth knocked out, heads bashed in, lips busted and a numbers of concussions."

The National Lawyers Guild says that 100 protesters were arrested altogether over the weekend and during the week of action, with the "vast majority"--60 people--being taken into police custody on Sunday.

A total of 6 protesters were charged with felonies--one for attempting to break through a line of police on bicycles Sunday night.

What actually took place Sunday after the march ended has been highly debated, but the general outline compiled from numerous eyewitness reports goes like this: while the speeches from the main stage were ending, a crowd of 'black blocers' began advancing east toward McCormick Place.

As the group started pushing forward, rows of police in riot gear formed a square, with a small outlet at the cross section of Michigan Avenue and Cermak Road. However, also in the crowd, and at points sandwiched between the black bloc and the police, were journalists and marchers who were unable to leave the scene because of the surrounding police presence.

From this reporter's view, there were at least 30-50 people in the square surrounded by police that were not dressed in black or pushing east towards McCormick Place. Soon after, this reporter saw people being taken out of the crowd with bleeding heads and, in one case, a bleeding eye.

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