COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Local activist Ja'Mal Green was criminally indicted Wednesday following allegations he attacked multiple Chicago Police officers at a protest last month.
Green now faces nine felony charges, according to Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.
The charges include six counts of aggravated battery to a peace officer, two counts of aggravated battery in a public place and one count of attempting to disarm a peace officer.
Prosecutors allege Green, 20, threw a punch at one officer and grabbed another's duty belt following the "die-in" Green helped organize at Taste of Chicago in July.
But supporters maintain Green never attacked police, and activists think photos and video taken July 9 will back up their version of events.
As of Wednesday afternoon, an online petition asking prosecutors to drop charges against Green had garnered more than 800 signatures.
Green will be arraigned in this case Aug. 23. He is currently free on bond awaiting trial after supporters raised $35,000 — or the 10 percent of Green's $350,000 bail needed to go free.
According to prosecutors, Green led a protest without incident at Taste of Chicago from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on that Saturday. At roughly 6 p.m., Green hopped on a nearby barricade to shout instructions to roughly 150 to 200 protestors, whom he would lead on a march toward Michigan Avenue.
It was then that a Chicago Police officer repeatedly told Green to get off the barricade, prosecutors said. An officer eventually pulled Green down, and Green argued with the officer, threatening to "beat his a--," according to authorities.
Prosecutors allege Green began swinging his arms and eventually hit the officer in the left shoulder. Green's supporters have argued that Green was touching, not hitting, the officer. Police let then let Green go.
According to witnesses, Area Central Chief of Patrol George Devereaux was the person who told Green to get down and later pulled Green off a barricade. Activists and officers swarmed the men, with activists saying Devereaux could have injured Green.
"Let him go! Let him go!" they chanted as police tried to move them back from Green and the officer.
Afterward, as activists marched along Michigan Avenue, they repeatedly asked police to suspend or fire the officer who had pulled Green off the barricade. Green also told police they should remove the officer.
Green and the officer had argued several times during the protest, according to witnesses. Police refused to let the activists bring signs or megaphones into the Taste, citing the festival's rules, and activists objected to the officer standing in the way when they tried to link arms.
Green was later arrested near Water Tower Place about 7:20 p.m. after he allegedly got into a second altercation with Chicago Police officers who were arresting a different protestor for "failure to exercise due care," court records show.
It was there Green spit at an officer and grabbed his duty belt, less than an inch from his gun, according to prosecutors. A second officer detained Green, who reportedly said, "You're gonna get it. I'm gonna have your badge. You'll know next week."
Activist Martin Johnson, who took part in the protest, said Green was trying to "negotiate" with police to free another activist when he was arrested near the Water Tower Place. At that moment, Johnson said, officers grabbed him.
"They tricked him," Johnson said. "They had it out for him the whole time."
Outside the courthouse at Belmont and Western avenues, Green's attorney, Michael Oppenheimer, told reporters his client is not guilty and will fight the charges.
The Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina, said, told reporters he stands behind Green.
"I've watched him over the last year be a person who has always tried to bring people together, stay in peace, bring relationships together between law enforcement and the community," the Catholic priest said.
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