Transcript of some of the remarks by Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy at an 8 p.m. press conference Sunday night, after a day of violent clashes between police and NATO protesters:
“I want to start by saying, again, that that you’re seeing is exactly what we told you you we’re going to see. As a matter of fact, as I came down Michigan avenue, after going out and taking a look at what’s going on out there, we had our bicycle cops facilitating another march north on Michigan avenue at around 18th street. That’s what you’ve been seeing for the last few days. In some cases, there were problems with those particular protests. We’ve facilitated every single one that we could. Our officers have shown dramatic restraint in taking taunting and verbal assaults of protesters.
“Today what you saw was something a little bit different. We estimate the crowd size to be somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000, based upon arial shots and measurements, as we look at how many people fit in each block.
“At the end of the rally and, I presume — I know there was a lot of media up on the rooftop. We had some real human intelligence out of the crowd that a couple of things were happening. One of them was
somebody who claimed to have an incendiary device in a backpack, which was overheard by one of our officers. And that person was removed from the crowd and arrested by undercovers without incident. Additionally
— and I’m sure that you were able to see this because I was able to see it from standing on a planter on the other side — that there was a group of what we commonly refer to as the Black bloc folks, who kind
of rallied together. They put their masks on, and we had intelligence from the crowd that as soon as the ceremony with the soldiers was over, that they were going to charge the stage and try and break through and assault our cops. That’s exactly what happened. They rallied, they charged the cops and they assaulted the officers. We
“So far today, we’re up to 45 arrests today. I can’t tell you how many happened here. I’m sorry, I don’t have it all together yet. We have at least four officers who went to the hospital — none
too seriously, bumps and bruises. One officer was stabbed in the leg.
That’s pretty much all I can give you, except for this: you know,
These officers were highly trained, highly skilled and if you think it’s easy to ask people to do what they did, it’s not. Asking people to put themselves in harm’s way — knowing that they’re going to get
assaulted and to be able to stay there and take it — those guys were amazing.
Q: Did police find an incendiary device in the backpack?
“It’s being tested right now. We had to remove it from the scene. It’s being handled by Bomb and Arson. We’re not sure what it is at this point.”
Q: How was the officer stabbed?
A: “I gave you everything I got. Minor injury. It’s not like. He’s probably getting stitches or something like that.”
Q: Attorneys for the national lawyers guild representing the five men
charged in the alleged domestic terrorism plot said those men were goaded into their actions by police.
A: “I’m going to address it on two levels: we’re not going to — as I
said yesterday, and I probably stepped on Anita Alvarez’s line — we’re not going to try this case in the public eye. The second thing I’m going to say is: Nonsense. That’s all I have to say about that.”
Q: Explain why officers used their batons?
A: “Absolutely. To overcome an assault. Absolutely.”
Q: You said you were concerned about the image. The batons coming out
were not a “pretty picture.”
A: “No, but ultimately the officers were assaulted. They don’t have to stand there and take an assault. And by the way, I want to make this point: Just because we’ve been telling you exactly what you were going
to see — for the last six months — doesn’t mean that you excuse it. The fingers should be pointed at the people who assaulted the cops.”
Q: We saw you in the thick of the confrontations. Is this basically a
problem just with the Black bloc?
A:“Ninety-nine percent, absolutely. Pick out the number because I’m not sure what it is. Is it 200 or is it 300 people who come here to cause problems? We told you what it was going to be, you watched it in action today. It’s only a group of people — I don’t know if you saw the way that we were interacting with and working with the Iraqi
veterans on the stage. We did everything that we possibly could, including moving our cops out of the way so that they could have their ceremony.”
Q:What message do you want to send to your officers?
A: “I’ve related as personally as I could to every single cop I see, ‘Thank you very much.’ I can’t believe how great these guys and gals are. The courage and the integrity that these guys are showing, the restraint that they are showing and the hard work (is) overwhelming.
It makes me so proud to be not only a police officer, but to be here ight now in charge of this department -- how fortunate am I ?”
Q: Is this a new level of restraint for Chicago police?
A: “I don’t know if it’s a new level for Chicago police. I think it’s a new level for police in general. You know, we’ve learned. We’ve talked about this. We talked about the soft hats and the uniforms as we’re going into these events. You don’t just confront people with officers in turtle suits with helmets and batons. When it starts to ratchet up,
we go from the soft look (as we say) to the next level of helmets to the next level of turtle suits. So, I mean, there’s a bit of psychology here because if you come out confrontational, you’ll probably receive confrontation in return.
“Just a couple of quick things ... You know, the crowd size has not
been what everybody was predicting as far as crowd size and doom and
gloom. There’s only been a couple of incidences of property damage,
and we’re not even positive that it’s NATO-related. We did have a
couple of broken windows downtown. We’ve got to follow up and find
out. This was earlier in the day — actually this morning. So this
event is going incredibly well. I know that that picture is what
people are gonna run away from here with, but think about this: 45
arrests today. What do we have, 19 more before this? I think that’s
overwhelming if we get through the next two days and it stays as low
as it is. But just remember this: Our cops are not here to be
assaulted, and nobody should excuse that.”
Yeah, I became the subject of a couple of taunts -- not only today,
but yesterday, but actually driving here also. On one level, I have to
show the same leadership and restraint that I expect my officers to
do, and on another level, it’s positive for them to see, you know,
here I am engaging in the same behavior and taking the hits too. So,
you know, a lot of curse words. Let’s put it that way.”
The black bloc kisses are still in the city. Do you think we’ll see
“We may. We may. I think -- and I have to look at the video tape --
because I know exactly what I saw. And I think what we saw was these
guys just kind of rallied their courage and said, ok, let’s go. This
is what we came here for. And I have to say to myself, what are you
thinking? What are you thinking? That just wasn’t going to work. If
that’s what they wanted -- to get arrested -- so be it. They can go
and say: look, I’m proud. I beat up a cop. I assaulted a cop. But
we’re going to continue to do exactly what we’re doing. As I said,
we’re facilitating marches everywhere else. Where appropriate, we’ll
make arrests based on people’s behaviors.”
Q: With the talk of potentially tens of thousands of protesters showing
up, we’re you surprised the numbers were so small?
A: “No, not really because we didn’t have crowd estimates from the
beginning and people were speculating. I can tell you this — that on
the mainland, as far as I’ve learned, 10,000 was the top end that we
got at any of these protests to begin with.
It’s only a best guess when people are trying to estimate a crowd
coming to an event.”
Q: Will it be the same tactics and procedures Monday?
A: “Most likely. I don’t know why we would change. We’re not here to get
better is what it boils down to, and I’m not going to allow that. We
said it before and I’ll say it again: We told you what this was going
to look like. We expected some of these things to happen and, quite
frankly, I think it’s been an incredibly successful event in spite of
some of these issues.”
Q: How close were you to using chemical agents?
A: “Not at all. That was miscommunication. When you’re in the line, or
first of all, wearing a helmet, you can’t hear so well, and, if you
noticed, we were trying to give orders by hand. ... Sometimes that
communication -- I looked, and I saw a whole bunch of people putting
on gas masks, and I said, why are they doing that? And somebody said,
‘No, no no. All clear.’ It was just a miscommunication in the crowd.
So that’s why we have to practice, that’s why we have to train. And
that’s what we’ve been doing for the last few months, and I think my
guys and gals did an amazing job today.”
Q: Would that explain the Illinois State Police making the same mistake?
A: “Yeah. Yeah. And I’ve got to thank them publicly for being here today
and for this entire event. They’re working with the motorcades, and
they’re here to support us and we really appreciate it.”