An 18-year-old protester was brutally punched in the face by police, knocking out her front teeth, at a Chicago protest calling for the toppling of a Christopher Columbus statue over the weekend.
On Friday at least 1,000 people gathered around a statue in Grant Park where hordes of police clashed with demonstrators deploying pepper spray and beating people with wooden batons in what witnesses described as a ‘bloodiest’ protest so far.
Activist Miracle Boyd, 18, had just finished addressing the crowd protesting at the statue when she says she got into an argument with an officer.
When she started to record their altercation the cop allegedly took a swing with his left arm and hit her in the face.
‘My tooth was knocked out. I have lip abrasions in my mouth. My teeth hurt really bad,’ she said to ABC7.
She added the officer smacked her phone out of her hand and she was hit in the face.
Several videos of that altercation emerged on social media showing Boyd back away from officers before she appeared to get hit in the face and rushed off covering her bloodied mouth.
Boyd, a member of the youth group GoodKids MadCity, said the officers took her phone.
She had graduated from high school last month, was headed to Depaul University in the fall according to a June post by Chicago Public Schools, and was offered an internship with state senator Robert Peters’ office just last week.
A GoFundMe has been started to raise money for her medical bills.
State Sen. Peters slammed the police aggression towards her tweeting: ‘I’m sad, angry and disgusted.’
‘She’s someone who fights every day for gun violence prevention, who fights for a safe community. And what did she face? Abuse,’ he said.
Chicago Police say they’re opening an investigation into the incident with Boyd.
‘The Chicago Police Department (CPD) 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,’ the department said in a statement to Buzzfeed News.
Following the police violence with protesters Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted: ‘I have spoken to the director of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and she has assured me that @ChicagoCOPA stands ready to address these complaints.’
‘There have also been several reports of excessive force by the police. These are also unacceptable,’ she added.
— Alexander Gouletas (@AGouletas) July 18, 2020
Overall at least 12 people were arrested and 18 officers were injured at the protest.
One video from the chaotic clashes shows protesters throwing bottles and fireworks at officers standing ground at the statue.
One person scaled the statue and caught a rope that was tossed up from the crowd and started an unsuccessful attempt to pull the statue down.
Other videos and photos shows masses of officers running towards protesters and pushing them to the ground to clear out the square.
‘This was the bloodiest protest I’ve ever been to. People had gushing head wounds and the police just kept charging in and spraying everyone. To protect a statue of a murderer. The connected brutality & logic of Columbus’ colonialism and modern policing were on full display,’ one protester tweeted on the Friday demonstration.
Columbus statues have been a point of contention across the country amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lightfoot said last month she opposed the removal of Columbus statues in the city and on Saturday she said her team was planning for a ‘comprehensive review of our public icons’.
Protesters gathered outside the Mayor’s home on Saturday to protest her support for the statue and the police violence that unfolded Friday.
‘That statue has to be taken down. When you have a statue in a public square, you’re saying that is someone who should be celebrated,’ Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa of the 35th District said.
Late Friday a group of city and state officials released a statement condemning reports of police using pepper spray and other aggressive actions against protesters and journalists.
The document, signed by Ald. Ramirez-Rosa, Rep. Delia Ramirez, state Sen. Robert Peters, and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, added they’re ready to ‘work to defund the Chicago Polic,e Department immediately.’