Chicago activist, 18, says officer knocked out her front tooth at protest

Miracle Boyd said she was recording a protester's arrest. "The police officer came up to me, and he smacked the phone out of my hand, and it hit me in the mouth," she said.

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By Janelle Griffith

An 18-year-old activist in Chicago said an officer knocked her front tooth out at a protest in the city Friday night where protesters trying to topple a Christopher Columbus statue clashed with police. An anti-violence organization she is a part of posted a video on Twitter that appears to show an officer hitting her.

The activist, Miracle Boyd, was at Grant Park where she said an officer knocked out her front tooth as she recorded the arrest of a protester.

"The police officer came up to me, and he smacked the phone out of my hand, and it hit me in the mouth," she told NBC Chicago.

Activist Miracle Boyd speaks in Chicago.NBC Chicago

Boyd did not immediately return a request for an interview Monday. She told BuzzFeed that she had finished delivering a speech to a group of protesters in the park and was leaving to go home when she heard the sound of fireworks being set off. She headed in the direction of the sound and started recording a livestream on Facebook, the outlet reported.

"They were beating a white woman with a baton," Boyd told BuzzFeed. "They were macing everyone. I was trying to get footage of the police viciously attacking on people."

Boyd, a recent high school graduate, denied being the aggressor and said she has been labeled as such because she was shouting at police, BuzzFeed reported. She said that she has never thrown anything or swung at a police officer.

At a news conference Monday, she said that she fights "every day" in her community to end gun violence and that she was “unjustly attacked by a Chicago police officer” who “valued a supremacist statue over” her life, safety and well being.

"The police are not serving and protecting," she said. "There is no way I should have left a protest bruised and battered for exercising my freedom of speech and freedom to assemble."

Boyd said she is not a menace, a hood rat or a rebel and that she is a dedicated freedom fighter.

"No matter what I said, no matter what I did, it did not justify me being brutalized and attacked," she said. "I am calling for the officer who attacked me to be relieved of his duties."

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability said in a statement Sunday it had received more than 20 complaints against police "as a result of protests in Grant Park" and had opened preliminary investigations into the most "egregious" ones.

It also said it was investigating "widespread video" of an incident of an officer striking a civilian. A spokeswoman for the agency confirmed Monday the video referred to in the statement is the one involving Boyd that was posted to Twitter by the anti-gun violence group GoodKids MadCity.

At least 1,000 people gathered around the statue Friday after a rally in support of Black and Indigenous people, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said Monday that dozens of officers were injured in Friday's protest.

"This is what our officers faced on Friday night at Grant Park," he said in a tweet, in which he linked to a YouTube video from the protest. "Criminal agitators pelted fireworks, frozen water bottles and other projectiles at our officers, injuring 49 of them. This is unacceptable and we cannot stand for this."

Video shows some officers used batons to beat people. Protesters were among the injured, and at least a dozen people were arrested.

Chicago police did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.

A group of city and state officials released a statement late Friday that referenced reports on social media of police using pepper spray and excessive force against protesters.

"We unequivocally condemn Mayor Lori Lightfoot's decision to send the Chicago police to beat, arrest, and terrorize the demonstrators and journalists gathered in Grant Park tonight,” the statement said.

Lightfoot said Saturday that she will "unequivocally support and will always fight for the rights of individuals to peacefully protest on any issue" but said "a portion of the protesters turned violent."

A number of individuals came with frozen water bottles, rocks, bottles, cans and other gear to throw at officers, Lightfoot said in a statement.

"People in the crowd also threw fireworks and other incendiary devices at police, causing injury in several cases," she said. "These violent acts are unacceptable and put everyone at risk."

The mayor said "there have also been several reports of excessive force by the police." She called them "unacceptable" and urged anyone who believes they were mistreated by police to file a complaint with the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability.