Witness: Saturday in Chicago Was Peaceful Until Police Moved on Protesters

Diego Villasenor protesting in Chicago Saturday
Diego Villasenor, bottom-right, marches Saturday in Chicago. (Photo: Diego Villasenor)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Diego Villasenor was protesting in Chicago Saturday when the rallies became combustive. Coming in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer, the 2019 graduate of Marian Catholic High School wrote Sunday that the protests were peaceful until police boxed in protesters around Trump Tower, raised bridges, and split those marching into two groups. This heightened anxiety among the people, leaving no way to escape while in the Loop, according to Mr. Villasenor.

“It was a struggle,” Mr. Villasenor said. “They made it as hard as possible for people who wanted to leave. People were desperate at the end.”

The anxiety among the crowd escalated to now well-documented reports of protesting turned into rioting, looting businesses, “and other civil unrest,” the Chicago Tribune stated.

Mr. Villasenor shared the frustration many in the crowds expressed in other ways, “The fact we have to organize this in the middle of a pandemic shows how f—–g pissed off the country is right now. We need our leaders to come together and figure out how to lead us through this or this country is going to get torn to shreds.”

“I am still trying to process everything I witnessed, experienced, and felt [Saturday] while demonstrating in Chicago,” Mr. Villasenor said in a Facebook post.

“The protest in Chicago was peaceful up until the point the militarized police boxed in the protesters around Trump Tower and split them into two groups. They raised the bridges downtown further separating the groups and causing anxiety leaving no pathway to escape while in the Loop,” he continued.

At that point, he said he witnessed “sheer violence instigated” by the Chicago Police Department. He said police attacked protesters who were sitting on the ground, “beating kids with batons for standing in their way, and trampling them with horses.”

Protesters march Saturday in Chicago.
Protesters march Saturday in Chicago. (Photo: Diego Villasenor)

“The people fought back and created obstacles to make it more difficult for the CPD to coordinate their movements, but at that point, chaos was already beginning,” Mr. Villasenor said.

“I saw first hand the first cop car explode and military-looking individuals get out of unmarked cars with fully loaded guns and tear gas canisters. The sounds of glass shattering, explosions, screaming, and yelling are still prevalent in my head,” he wrote.

“My experience is shared by many of you who were there, and even more so by citizens across the country,” Mr. Villasenor said. “Videos of police brutality from these last couple days further the point that the people must defend themselves from the militarized police forces instigating violence across the country.”

“Peaceful protests have not achieved the goals needed to ensure the prosperity of minorities and the working-class citizens of this country as of late, so we are left with no choice but to fight back against the systems that oppress us,” Mr. Villasenor said. “In my lifetime I have seen on TV and social media too many innocent people have their lives taken away by an overly aggressive and unchecked police state in our society.”

Protesters kneel Saturday in Chicago. (Video: Diego Villasenor)

He reflected next on the inaction of so many.

“Personally, I don’t understand how the events have not radicalized more of you,” he wrote. “To see people posting selfies and videos of them partying the last couple days absolutely disgust me. We are in the midst of a second, if not third, civil rights movement.

“If you do not stand with the Black Lives Matter movement or for those who are trying to make a better life for future generations in this country, please do not consider us associates,” he said.

Others who were at the rally echoed Mr. Villasenor’s observation that the CPD left protesters with nowhere to go, “We were literally trapped. I was on the Dearborn/Kinzie side,” Sydney Pflaumer said in comments.

“I believe that if the cops wanted this to be peaceful and wanted to prove their merits they would be leading the marches and join us rather than setting up barricades and showing up in riot gear,” Mr. Villasenor further observed. “I don’t feel as if that is too much to ask and I feel that it would show a world of support.”

He acknowledged seeing police do this at rallies in other cities and called it “a really great moment of hope.”

The fight continues, Mr. Villasenor said. “It’s not going to be won by typing away on keyboards. We need to organize, march, and demand change.”

Chicago Police vehicle on fire
A Chicago Police vehicle burns Saturday in Chicago. (Photo: Diego Villasenor)