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Published: Monday, 5/21/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Protesters clash with police near Chicago NATO summit

BLADE NEWS SERVICES

CHICAGO — Protesters at the NATO summit clashed with Chicago police late Sunday as officers tried to disperse thousands of people who had gathered several blocks from the site of the meeting and refused demands to leave.

The standoff, which lasted several hours, grew intense as police officers, some in riot gear and gas masks, and protesters confronted one another.

Shoving and scuffles broke out.

Some police officers waved night sticks and some protesters threw red paint, a bucket, sticks, and more.

RELATED: NATO SEEKS FINAL PLAN ON AFGHAN EXIT

By late afternoon, some protesters were being carried away by officers, who tried to disperse the crowd with messages over loudspeakers, then seemed to push them back in waves with the sheer number of officers.

As the clash went on, mounted police officers equipped their horses with protective masks. The confrontations occurred after a march through the streets downtown.

Led by a small group of men and women in American military uniforms who said they wished to return their medals as a symbol, thousands of protesters opposed to war and to NATO or motivated by other issues marched down Michigan Avenue.

The protesters wound their way as close as they could get to McCormick Place, where world leaders were holding a summit.

After the march, protesters tried to move east toward McCormick Place, with some hurling sticks and bottles at police. Officers responded by swinging their batons.

The two sides were locked in a standoff for nearly two hours, with police blocking the protesters’ path and the crowd refusing to leave.

Some protesters had blood streaming down their faces.

After the clash near McCormick Place, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference that the protests of the NATO summit resulted in 45 people being arrested and four officers suffering injuries — one from a stab wound in the leg.

Those numbers seemed certain to rise as new clashes erupted later in the night.

Authorities had planned to provide heightened security along the march route to protect people and property.

But unseasonably warm temperatures raised concerns about the safety of the marchers themselves. The city provided water, rest stations and cooling buses along the 2½-mile protest route.



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