At approximately 10:40 p.m. on Saturday, May 19th, 2012 a Chicago Police van drove into a crowd of demonstrators who were attempting to cross westbound over the Jackson Street bridge at the Chicago River.
Chicago Police van number 6751, accelerated as it passed through the crowd, striking several people and seriously injuring one victim who was later transported to the emergency room. The extent of the victim’s injuries are not known.
The driver of the van made no attempt to ascertain the condition of any of the people that were struck. Witnesses watched as the van passed through the phalanx of police surrounding the scene and drove away from the area. Had there been a civilian driving, they would certainly have been charged with a hit-and-run on a pedestrian in the roadway and taken into custody once they had been apprehended.
No order to disperse had been given to the crowd. The van was running it’s siren, however police vans in close proximity to the rear of the crowd had been running their sirens all day, so it was not immediately noticed that the van was intending to pass through the crowd. The occupants of the van made no attempt to use the public address loudspeakers to warn those in their path.
More Police Violence at anti-NATO Protests
Thousands of marchers gathered in Chicago today to continue a week of criticism directed at the arms industry, NATO, and the austerity measures carried out against social service providers on the local level.
The first of three marches on Saturday focused attention on the closures of half of the city of Chicago’s neighborhood mental health clinics as 2-3 thousand people congregated in front of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home at 4228 N. Hermitage.
Around 3:30pm, Saturday, approximately 1,000 marchers gathered at Daley Plaza to protest the raid of a Bridgeport home and terrorism charges levied against three anti-NATO activists — a group dubbed the NATO 3, inspiring a currently trending campaign on twitter with the keyword #NATO3.
A third march, the Anti-Capitalist march, had been called to meet at the statue commemorating the international labor movement in Haymarket Square at Randolph and Desplaines on the Near West Side.
Several hundred people from the #NATO3 group marched to the South Loop, and in attempting to meet the “Anti-Capitalist” march at Haymarket were divided and redirected by the Chicago Police Department into several smaller groups. By the time the disparate marches converged near Randolph and Desplaines around 6:30pm, the police department had repeatedly stopped the marchers at intersections as the different groups attempted to reach each other, walking through the closed-off downtown streets in 90 degree heat.
One march headed west on Harrison Street over the south branch of the Chicago River, a second became kettled at State and Congress, while the third mustered at 175 N. Desplaines, and proceeded south towards the others. After converging near Madison and Jefferson, the larger gathering moved north, then east, to turn south onto State Street, when double lines of police on foot and bicycles again met, stopped, and kettled the crowd of approximately 1,500, arresting several, while using batons to beat several more. The crowd worked its way south on State Street, and as it neared Taylor, it was again hemmed in, and in response to some provocation (likely the rapid brandishing of metal batons by officers) the noise level in the crowd increased. Around ten people in the assembly were beaten.