Organizers with Care Not Cops say that Chicago police raided their encampment at 49th Street and Greenwood Avenue early Thursday morning, after the group moved back into the street Wednesday afternoon.
Michelle Yang, an organizer with the group, said that police began entering the encampment at around 2 a.m. “A bunch of officers and cars came. It was kind of hard to tell how many,” she said, but estimated that at least 4 cars and around 5 officers were there.
Yang said that the officers shone a floodlight on the protesters in order to wake them up, and tore down the barricades they had erected. “They used a connector (from the barricade) to poke at someone, hitting somebody with it to wake them up,” she said. “They told us that we had to get out, and they said they were going to call (Streets and Sanitation) to remove our stuff.”
A video posted by Care Not Cops to social media shows police cars directing their headlights at the encampment.
Police left after the group moved some of the structures in the street to the sidewalk, and other people arrived in support of the protesters.
“It’s threat and intimidation — they’re trying to create despair,” said Yang, who suggested that police had waited to act until press and legal observers had left the encampment. “Their strategy is to get us to leave on our own...they’re trying to wear us out.”
She also speculated that the police may have acted at the request of people who lived nearby. “Maybe 15 to 20 minutes before the raid this couple biked by and said a bunch of really nasty stuff and were recording us,” she said. “Some people are coming out of their way to bike or drive along the street and call us ‘disgusting’ and say, ‘Why are you here?’ ” said Yang.
A spokesperson for CPD said that they had not found “any service calls or incident reports at this address this morning.”
The latest confrontation between police and the occupation comes after protesters moved most of their encampment back into the street Wednesday afternoon. The group had largely moved to the sidewalk after Chicago police issued dispersal orders against them Sunday and Monday.
After erecting a canopy tent, four protesters used zip ties to fasten themselves to the structure. Organizers set up twin barricades using orange traffic cones and yellow and black connectors. Six people used their bicycles to form a wall.
The move back into the street, inviting arrest, came after Lee issued a statement Tuesday stating that the school had “no intention” of disbanding UCPD and criticizing protesters for going “beyond any civil bounds.” She also said that the administration would not agree to the group’s demands for a public meeting, but had issued an invitation for a private meeting.
In the Wednesday press conference, organizers condemned Lee and the school. “She completely refused to have a meeting in public. What is she afraid of? Why can’t she come out and meet with us where we can hold her accountable?” said Lilly Le, an organizer with UC United.
Yang recounted a private meeting the group had with previous provost Daniel Diermeier and Derek Douglas, vice president for Civic Engagement and External Affairs, after the shooting of Charles Soji Thomas in early 2018.
“They were so dismissive and belittling. they said, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about — the community loves UCPD,’ ” said Yang. “They were taking the meeting for press.”
Wednesday evening, a U. of C. spokesperson said, “The University’s proposed meeting with a representative group of protesters would be within the context of a series of meetings the University is conducting with people from across our campus and in local communities, encompassing a wide range of views on public safety issues. We plan to share the outcome of these discussions with the University community in a public town hall.”
The spokesperson did not respond to a question about when the public town hall would be held.