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Police, NATO Protesters Clash At End Of Sunday March

By Samantha Abernethy in News on May 20, 2012 10:40PM

We will be constantly updating this post as things develop.

Tension was high between NATO protesters and police, as the protesters tried to move east toward McCormick Place where NATO officials are meeting. Protesters were at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Cermak Road pushing east when police gave an order to disperse. The clashes started just before 5 p.m., and the worst of the violence was just before 5:30 p.m. Police dressed in riot gear had put on their gas masks, and a Long Range Acoustic Device was at the ready.

Some protesters were chanting "This is a peaceful protest," as some others, a group of "black bloc" protesters, were throwing sticks and bottles at police, while police struck protesters with batons. Our reporter in the field said, "People lost teeth, have been bashed in the face, have broken ribs."

According to the Tribune, Activist Andy Thayer was shouting through a bull horn to tell protesters to obey the police and move west, saying, “We went to a lot of trouble to make sure this march was a safe and peaceful march.”

***5:50 p.m.***

At least two protesters were taken away with minor injuries. In footage of the crowd, there are several bloody heads visible.

Protesters tore a metal blockade and threw it at police.

Chicago Police Department Superintendant Garry McCarthy is on the scene in uniform, but not in riot gear or helmet. He is standing behind the lines of officers in riot gear.

***6:00 p.m.***
Chicago Police Department has brought in the paddywagons to prepare to make arrests. Police were seen carrying away one protester.

***6:15 p.m.***
Police are inching forward to push the protesters east, away from McCormick Place. Illinois State Police are approaching.

***6:25 p.m.***
Police have made a handful of arrests. Officers are rotating out, hot and sweaty. Things seem to be much more under control. Maybe 200-250 protesters remain.

In the meantime, President Barack Obama left McCormick Place and returned to the Sheraton Hotel at 5:30 p.m.

According to the Sun-Times, "A police lieutenant could be heard telling a line of officers at about 6:15 p.m.: 'Just soft wood — no hard wood,' meaning to stop using batons."

***6:45 p.m.***
Everything seems to have calmed down now. Police have now managed to push the remaining group of protesters east on Cermak to State Street. They are no longer pushing the group back, just standing in front of them and encouraging them to go south on State. Some left saying, "Show me what a police state looks like! This is what a police state looks like!"

An unknown number of people were arrested. If you're curious who they might be, Sun-Times blogger Mark Konkol has been tweeting photos of people cuffed with zipties and taken from the scene.

It's worth noting that WGN shut down their live feed and switched to an episode of Friends. Awkward transition, eh?