CHICAGO (CBS) — Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and several other observers have praised officers in the field for their restraint during the NATO Summit protests, but some protest leaders say they cannot see McCarthy’s justification for the use of force.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, the protest leaders say Chicago Police used their batons indiscriminately on Sunday at Michigan Avenue and Cermak Road.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy was out in the field watching the whole thing unfold Sunday, and he said the officers showed impressive restraint.
But at a subsequent demonstration on Monday, protest leader Joe Iosbaker says he cannot see Police Superintendent McCarthy’s justification for using police batons.
“McCarthy cries his crocodile tears. Those didn’t move me at all,” Iosbaker said. “What moved me was the guy I was helping to stand up, holding his tooth in his mouth. That’s what moved me, OK? No Black Bloc-er put out a cop’s tooth. They were smacking anybody that was close enough for their batons.”
Video from the scene showed some protesters provoking officers and throwing water bottles at them. Several people have been quick to point out that pushing or even touching a police officer is a crime and can be met with force.
But Iosbaker did not agree that provocation justified anything.
“Really? Is that really police training?” Iosbaker said. “If somebody provokes you, you get to beat them up? Come on. I’ve got cops in my family. I’ve got cops, airmen, soldiers, sailors. That’s not the training. They’re supposed to be above it.”
Protest groups and citizen journalists lit up social media over the weekend with allegations of excessive force and brutality on the part of Chicago Police officers.
“Chicago is a full police state. Remind me again how many bankers have been arrested, tear gassed, beaten?” tweeted Shannyn Moore of Homer, Alaska, on Sunday.
One tweet by Massachusetts media professional James Paul Ludwig said “Occupy Chicago in 2012 looks a lot like the 1968 DNC Convention,” accompanied by a link to a picture of an officer with his baton raised at a protester.
During the 1968 convention in Chicago, many demonstrators, as well as reporters and passersby, were beaten by Chicago Police officers outside the Democratic National Convention in 1968, in what has been popularly called a “police riot.”
Meanwhile, a Chicago Tribune photo showing an officer throwing a punch during the protest at Michigan Avenue and Cermak Road has also gone viral, accompanied by shrill captions such as “Chicago’s first class police brutality.”
But a caption on the original Tribune photo points out that the officer’s punch was directed at a protester who had just broken a wooden board over another officer’s head. The injured officer can be seen in the background.
McCarthy was quoted as saying the protesters “came after” police, and that police can use force to overcome an assault.