Monday, May 21, 2012
Supt. McCarthy on the front line:‘You lead from the front.’ It's like being in one big bar fight, you don't slip out the backdoor & leave your buddies
Under the hot mid-day sun, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy wiped his brow and took unexpected compliments from a few of the thousands of folks from across the country who marched down Michigan Avenue to protest the NATO Summit.
“Thank you for keeping this peaceful,” a woman dressed in pink said.
“No, thank you,” said McCarthy, who walked alongside the protesters and uniformed officers sporting Chicago-blue helmets and wooden clubs.
When a man wearing a colorful mask came to McCarthy with a plea — “An old woman was assaulted. Help her” — Chicago’s top cop personally escorted the alleged offender to officers who later placed the man, a lawyer from San Francisco, under arrest.
“So far, everything is as we expected,” McCarthy said just after 2 p.m. “A couple broken windows. But we don’t know if that’s NATO related, yet. Most people are here to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights.”
Three hours later, everything changed. A band of “Black Bloc” protesters clashed with police at Cermak and Michigan in an apparent attempt to move closer to McCormick Place, where world leaders gathered for summit talks. As the march neared the protest’s city-approved destination, the Black Bloc banded together in the crowd and charged the line of police outfitted in bulky black body armor, helmets and face shields with gas masks and clubs dangling from their belts.