UIC Officers Criticize Their Police Chief Following Trump Rally Violence

Seven campus police officers were responsible for the letter, which claimed the school’s policies created a dangerous situation.

University of Illinois Chicago police criticized their police chief in a letter outlining what they called a dangerous situation at a recent Donald Trump rally on campus.

The campus police blamed their chief and other school leaders for instating policies that they say put them in danger at the contentious rally, according to abc7chicago.com.

The rally, which took place in the campus’s 9,500-seat pavilion, was cancelled after thousands of Trump supporters and protesters had been clashing on campus for hours. Three people, including a Chicago police officer, were injured at the rally, where university, city and state police struggled to keep order.

In the letter, seven officers wrote that the plans for handling the rally showed a complete disregard for their safety. They said the chaos that quickly broke out at the event, which resulted in eight arrests overall, could have been avoided if event preparation was handled better.

The campus police said there was no pre-planning by the school and that they underwent no training in the days leading up to the event. They also claimed there was no contingency plan if things got contentious and no riot gear on the scene.

The police also cited what they called dangerous restrictions on their behavior at the event. The officers said they were told not to put their hands on anyone or wear dark gloves. They claim they were also instructed not to bring pepper spray despite their responsibilities to keep order.

Specifically calling out University Police Chief Kevin Booker, the officers said the department’s approach to the event led to unnecessary violence and too few arrests. The officers wrote that their chief “stayed far away from the actual event” and later ordered the release of the only three people campus police arrested.

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Chief Booker did not respond to requests for comment by ABC7, although the university released a statement that contradicted many claims made in the letter. The university’s statement is included below.

“Our officers had all appropriate training, authorized use of force, and protective equipment available to them at all times. The UIC Police were fully prepared to handle security during the Trump event and coordinated extensive meetings in advance with appropriate law enforcement agencies including the Chicago Police, the Illinois State Police and Secret Service as well as campaign and protest organizers.

The posture and tactics employed by UIC Police resulted in no injuries and few arrests inside the Pavilion and an orderly exit of large crowds following the abrupt cancellation of the event. The UIC Police Department was not consulted before the cancellation and UICPD did not recommend that the campaign cancel the event.

-O.C. spray, or pepper spray, is contraindicated in closed, confined areas such as the Pavilion and could have presented a hazardous situation for event attendees.

-Riot gear was available, if needed. The majority of UIC Police were in full uniform, with personal protective gear, with the exception of plain-clothes detectives who provided surveillance and valuable intelligence.

-UIC Police were never told not to wear gloves – just not the dark gloves which look aggressive.

-UIC Police were never told not to place hands on anyone – those instructions were only given to event security and Trump campaign security.

-Chief Booker was on site and in charge of managing all UIC Police activity and coordinating with multiple law enforcement agencies during the event.”

The seven officers responsible for the letter are members of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police Local 381, which represents the university’s police.

The March 11 rally, a video of which is included below, was expected to draw a large opposition crowd. Prior to the event, some university staff members had urged administrators not to allow the rally.

Trump’s decision not to speak at the even came minutes before he was set to take the stage.

About the Author

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Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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