A total of 4 police officers were injured and 45 demonstrators arrested after baton-wielding police clashed with anti-war protesters marching on the NATO summit in Chicago on Sunday, police said. A lawyer’s group assisting protesters challenged police figures, saying at least 12 protesters were hurt, some with head wounds from police batons, and more than 60 people detained.
The confrontation began after a 2 1/2 mile march from a Chicago park to near the site of the summit, where leaders of the NATO alliance are discussing the war in Afghanistan. Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy defended police tactics.
“I know that picture [of officers in riot gear pushing and hitting protesters] is going to be what people are going to run away here with,” McCarthy told reporters. “But cops are not here to be assaulted.”
Most of the officers sustained minor injuries, but one was stabbed in the leg, McCarthy said. While the melee at the end of the rally received the most attention, the situation had calmed down by dark. The size of the protests over the last week fell short of expectations. Police estimated about 3,000 people attended on Sunday, although many participants thought the crowd was larger. Organizers did not get the 10,000 people they had hoped for, or the 40,000 the anti-Wall Street Occupy movement boasted it would attract.
On Sunday afternoon, police ordered the protesters to disperse or risk arrest. Most of the demonstrators did, but several hundred ignored the order and police moved in.