By Mike Talavera
Last Friday, hundreds of people surrounded the Christopher Columbus statue in Chicago’s Grant Park and tied ropes around it, attempting to pull it down as part of a nationwide movement against racist US monuments. When Chicago police arrived to defend the statue with batons and pepper spray, they were barraged with water bottles, fireworks, and other projectiles. 49 officers were injured and 18 were sent to the hospital.
The attack demonstrated how little coordination is necessary for protesters to overwhelm encircled and outnumbered police forces. Even this minimal level of tactical consideration led authorities to criminalize the protest as a whole, showing the threat the organization of the masses poses to US imperialism.
“That’s not peaceful protest, that’s anarchy, and we are going to put that down,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “We are actively investigating, and we will bring those people to justice.”
“Peaceful demonstrations have been hijacked by organized mobs,” Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown said. “I have ordered all of our officers to wear any and all protective gear when protests occur.”
While ruling class authorities lamented the damage done to their enforcers, protesters suffered the same kind of police brutality that sparked the May Uprising with the murder of George Floyd. One young activist named Miracle Boyd had her teeth punched out by an officer in the chaos following the attack.
On Saturday, hundreds marched on the Mayor’s home, which was guarded by an even larger police presence then the previous day. In what can only be perceived as retaliation for the embarrassment of their tactical blunder on Friday, police drove an unmarked car onto the sidewalk where protesters were gathered, striking several.
Unafraid, protesters returned to the Christopher Columbus statue Monday, and a defiant Miracle Boyd made a speech through her missing teeth, and the courage in her voice led to raised fists and thunderous applause from the crowd. “Christopher Columbus did not discover America!” she said. “He was a rapist, murderer, thief, and colonizer who laid the groundwork for indigenous genocide and the transatlantic slave trade of Africans.”
“Yet the police are protecting the statue of a man who died more than 500 years ago,” Miracle continued. “There’s no way I should have left a protest bruised and battered for exercising my freedom of speech and freedom to assemble. I’m disgusted and never would have ever thought that I would have become a victim to the biggest gang in America.”