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Officer suffered concussion in van incident in Loop Saturday, top cop says


Updated: July 1, 2012 12:42PM

A Chicago Police officer suffered a concussion Saturday night when a protester punched him through the window of his van during an impromptu march in the Loop, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Sunday.

It happened in a scrum as protesters marched on Jackson Avenue in the Loop Saturday night. McCarthy said “the march kind of overran” the officer, who was alone in the van, when the assault happened.

“He was at the front of the march, the march kind of overran him,” McCarthy said. “The officer drove off to get out of the crowd for his own safety.”

The van’s tires were slashed, he said.

The officer suffered a concussion, but is OK, the city’s top cop said.

In an unrelated incident, Taylor Hall, 23, of Pennsylvania was ordered held in lieu of $250,000 bail for trying to pull an officer off her bike at 18th and Michigan around 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

A prosecutor said Hall also assaulted two other officers on Friday and Saturday but not arrested in those cases. Authorities said the assault of the bike cop was captured on video by a TV news helicopter.

His defense attorney said he was covering the protests as a journalist for Rust Belt Media at time of incident.

Protesters, meanwhile, held a press conference at Grant Park on Sunday to level allegations of brutality at Chicago police.

Natalie Wahlberg, 29, said peaceful protesters including herself were assaulted at State and Washington Saturday evening. She said police wielded “clubs, collapsible batons and bicycles.”

Wahlberg also talked about the van incident, saying it accelerated through a crowd marching on Jackson and injured a protester.

McCarthy said that protester was not injured.

“By the way, he’s from New York, not Chicago,” McCarthy said,

Wahlberg said she briefly, irrationally, rode on the van’s hood to beg the driver to stop.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson visited with protesters Sunday morning and said the movement shouldn’t get involved in side arguments with the police. Jackson said that could detract from the primary issues, which include health care for veterans and NATO war-marking.

“To be successful in the minds of the authorities, any protest must be nonviolent,” Jackson said. Asked about allegations of police brutality, he said he witnessed none of the alleged incidents. “I’m sure are there are a lot people on edge,” he said.

Protest leaders, however, linked the police events to the violence they say NATO perpetrates overseas.

“The Obama administration and the Emanuel administration are all to blame for the predictable violence against peaceful protesters,” said activist Andy Thayer.

Wahlberg said protesters are focusing on the police because “they defend the NATO war machine.”

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