CHICAGO – Hundreds of protesters attempting to topple the city’s Christopher Columbus statute faced off with dozens of Chicago police Friday evening in an encounter that turned violent.
Twelve people were arrested and could “potentially face charges,” including battery to an officer, mob action or other felonies, police said, after some protesters began throwing objects at officers, who hit protesters with their batons.
About 18 officers were injured, police said. Some were treated on the scene by paramedics while others were transported to the hospital.
Photos and videos of the incident shared to social media showed protesters bleeding from the mouth. At least one protester – 18-year-old Miracle Boyd with GoodKids MadCity, an anti-gun violence group – had her teeth knocked out when an officer punched her, according to video of the assault shared by the organization.
Boyd went to the hospital Friday night and was doing better Saturday morning, said Kofi Ademola, a Black Lives Matter organizer and spokesperson for GoodKids MadCity.
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The protesters gathered in Grant Park on Friday afternoon for a “Black, Indigenous Solidarity Rally” organized by more than a dozen Chicago-based organizations. The event called for “the abolishment of police and the redistribution of funds to the people of Chicago,” according to the Facebook event page.
“We built this country as Black and Indigenous peoples. Our knowledge and labor has been exploited for too long,” the organizers wrote on the event page.
After the rally, some protesters moved south toward the statute, where police had gathered to protect it. Dozens of protesters, many holding black umbrellas, attempted to hurdle the short stone wall encircling the statue, according to dozens of videos shared to social media.
“Some members of the crowd turned on police and used the protest to attack officers with fireworks, rocks, frozen bottles, and other objects,” police said in a statement early Saturday.
In their official statement, police did not say what happened after protesters began throwing objects.
But according to dozens of videos shared to social media, police began to beat back protesters with batons and fired what appeared to be teargas. Police reinforcements arrived on the scene, and protesters dispersed Friday evening.
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At least one reporter said he was assaulted by officers while covering the protest.
“I was just assaulted by an officer for crossing the road to my bicycle while holding up my press badge and he called me a ‘smart ass’ for doing so, accused me of wanting to start a problem. I yelled help, he said ‘you’re gonna need help’ before throwing me,” Block Club Chi reporter Colin Boyle wrote on Twitter, where he posted video of the encounter.
Another journalist, CBSChicago reporter Marissa Parra, said on Twitter that an officer used his baton to swat her phone out of her hand while she was doing a live hit, and that he kicked it after it landed on the street. She also posted video of the incident.
Chicago police said in a statement that the department “strives to treat all individuals our officers encounter with respect.”
“We do not tolerate misconduct of any kind and if any wrongdoing is discovered, officers will be held accountable,” police said.
Images and videos of the statue shared to social media following the encounter showed the statue covered in graffiti.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
Follow USA TODAY NOW reporter Grace Hauck on Twitter @grace_hauck
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chicago protest at Columbus statue: 18 police wounded, 12 arrested