Grant Park protesters tear-gassed to save Christopher Columbus statue, Internet says 'we must defund the police'
“Columbus was a murderer. Columbus was a thief...” Loud cheers from a crowd were heard following a rally in support of Black and Indigenous people at Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain on Friday, July 17, evening. In no time, protesters surrounded the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park and attacked it with the intention to topple it down.
According to reports, over 1,000 protesters reached the Columbus statue from the Buckingham Fountain at about 6.30 pm to call for the defunding of the Chicago Police Department. Within an hour, a rope was thrown around the top of the statue in an attempt to pull it down and social media was abuzz with pictures and videos from Grant Park. In one picture, the statue could be seen spray-painted in red and black with slogans and slurs before being vandalized.
"Hey Family - This was the scene at the Christopher Columbus Statue at Grant Park just moments ago. Police are now guarding the statue after gassing the crowd with a substance we have not yet confirmed," one tweet read and another said, "Looks like 1,000+ Chicagoans have surrounded the Grant Park Columbus Statue. @Chicago_Police should stand down. Our city should value life (and not being sued for misconduct) more than a racist statue. #DecolonizeZhigaagoong."
In another update, one tweet read: "The Chicago police are sending everything they've got to Grant Park right now. They're beating protesters. Folks have been pepper-sprayed." Many protestors reportedly threw cans and other objects including fireworks at Chicago police officers. Police then hit some of the demonstrators with batons.
One angry Twitter user wrote: "So instead of protecting the city. Chicago's worthless police force is protecting a statue. Thanks for showing us we must defund the police and break their unions. Grant Park's Christopher Columbus statue has not paid any taxes that I'm aware of," and another said, "Have you seen what just occurred in Grant Park in Chicago? Protesters there were tear-gassed and beaten by police. Imagine when Trump loses and folks take to the streets to celebrate. He will use these tactics as a means to punish."
A Chicago Fire Department spokesman confirmed at least four Chicago police officers were taken to the hospital for injuries sustained during the incident. Reportedly, the rally had been organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago, Chi-Nations Youth Council, Black Youth Project 100 and other groups.