Police in riot gear meet hundreds of protesters in march through Loop
BY STEFANO ESPOSITO AND NATASHA KORECKI Staff Reporters May 19, 2012 10:06PM
Police stopped the crowd from proceeding North on Michigan ave. from Balbo but let them continue through after several minutes Saturday, May 19, 2012. | Rich Hein-Sun-Times
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Updated: May 20, 2012 12:04AM
Hundreds of protesters headed to the Board of Trade building Saturday night as they protested NATO, taunted police and blocked traffic on normally busy streets.
They were met by large contingents of police officers, some in riot gear, and others on bikes, who generally let the demonstrators remain in the streets.
At one point, a police van with sirens flashing drove down the middle of Jackson, forcing the marchers to disperse. A protester jumped on the front fender of the van, then got off, and someone screamed, “They hit him! They hit him!”
A law enforcement source late Saturday said there had been about 40 arrests throughout the day, mainly on misdemeanor charges.
Some of the arrests might have taken place at 8:30 p.m. near Wabash and Balbo, where police in riot gear carried a woman to a waiting police van. A man was taken as well, but few details were available.
Officially, police at 9:30 p.m. would only confirm one arrest had taken place.
That came after a crowd — possibly numbering more than 1,000 — had marched down State Street and eventually ended up on Balbo, where they were greeted by police in riot gear backed by police on horseback. The police then relented and let them march North on Michigan.
The mayor’s office said the crowd was between 750 and 1,000 at its peak.
Back, in the financial district, some protesters dressed in all black grabbed orange plastic barriers and dragged them to the street at LaSalle and Monroe.
The protesters headed to corner of Jackson and LaSalle, where Occupy Chicago had set up a long running camp last fall.
At one point Saturday night, the driver of a Jeep stuck in the crowd in the middle of LaSalle cranked his stereo in solidarity with the protesters. As he filmed the crowd, members took video of him.
Others members of the crowd stood on garbage cans looking around.