The below statement can be attributed to Colleen Connell, Executive Director, ACLU of Illinois:
“Images showing that Chicago Police officers responded with excessive violence and chemical agents to protesters who gathered in Grant Park last evening demands public accountability and transparency. Batons, physical force, and chemical sprays were used indiscriminately – against everyone, including those who wished to express their opposition to a statue at that location, legal observers, and journalists reporting from the scene. This type of violence is the very reason that thousands in Chicago – and millions across the country – have taken to the streets to protest police violence against Black people.
The Mayor, CPD leaders and other City officials should provide a full, public accounting about why this level of violence – including the use of chemical agents – was used. And every complaint of excessive force should be fully investigated and officers who abused protestors, legal observers, and journalists should be held to account.
This sort of violence cannot be repeated. More protests will occur this summer – some likely this weekend. The police department must order officers to use restraint and follow rules on use of force. And the City should announce today that it will not use chemicals on crowds going forward.
It is most disturbing that police thought violence against protestors, legal observers, and journalists was a measured reaction to protect a statue. As with their response to the protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, CPD appears to value property and statues above First Amendment protected activity, including expression of dissent and journalism on issues of public importance.
We have a suggestion to make this easier – take the statue in question down. The City could take that action today rather than responding to protests concerning the statue with harsh and violent measures.”