the battle of cermak
The most memorable moment from my vantage point of Sunday’s anti-NATO march occurred at the intersection of Cermak and Michigan. I trailed the back of the protest from Grant Park to their rallying point in the South Loop and made some fun images, but there wasn’t a lot of action.
After the official rally ended, it was clear that a group of “black bloc” protesters were gathering in the intersection and had no intention of moving. I squeezed my way toward the front for a view of the line between the protesters and the Chicago police officers in riot gear. A few protesters were shoving and throwing objects at the officers who were pushing the crowd west, and things very quickly heated up for a few seconds.
The officer in the first two photos had his helmet knocked off, then charged forward a bit into the crowd with his baton drawn and striking people. A protestor then broke a stick over his head, and as he fell backward, another protester was doing the same. Another officer quickly approached with a punch that hit someone right in front of me to move them back.
It’s important to see these photos together and with context, and I’m glad the Tribune is running them that way. The violence from the police officers was real, but it was provoked by violence from a few of the protesters.
The scariest part was right after this, when the crowd was so crushed it was impossible to move and hard to breathe. Everyone around me fell to the ground at one point. I backed up soon after, getting in the thick once was enough.
Fellow Trib photographer Alex Garcia was just a few feet to my right during this skirmish, and he has video of it in the second clip HERE.
Amazing images from all day and night by the entire Tribune photo staff are HERE.