A large group gathered for a protest around 4:20 p.m. local time, the department said. Officers were there “providing security and protecting their First Amendment right to peaceful assembly,” the statement said.
Approaching a statue of Christopher Columbus, some people in the crowd used rocks, fireworks, frozen bottles and other objects to attack officers, the statement said.
The attack resulted in 18 officers injured, the statement said. Some were taken to area hospitals by paramedics for further treatment and some were treated at the scene.
About 12 people were arrested and could potentially face charges that may include battery to a police officer, mob action, and/or other felonies, according to the statement.
A veteran Chicago Police officer said Saturday some police officers felt they weren’t ready for Friday’s protest.
“I have 17 years on this job. Last night was another example of how our leaders have let the radicals take over,” the officer said. “We were outnumbered and unprepared once again. The initial officers on scene had no helmets or shields. Coppers were getting pelted with rocks, sticks, bottles and then shot with fireworks.”
CNN reached out to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office on Saturday, and has not had a response.
The officer fears the growing violence puts officers lives in danger.
“The lack of leadership has already gotten dozens of officers hurt….if the police aren’t allowed to do what is needed we will be burying one of our own,” the veteran officer told CNN.
The incident comes two days after three NYPD officers and a top chief were injured after a clash with protesters.
A 24-year-old female was arrested for striking the officers with a cane as they tried to arrest a protester, the department said.