A day after Miracle Boyd’s teeth were knocked out by a Chicago Police Department (CPD) officer while filming someone’s arrest at the Decolonize Zhigaagoong protest on July 17, it took a while to get a hold of her. Chicago police took her phone shortly after the incident and the only way to get in contact with her was through her friend’s phone.

In a viral picture that circulated the internet this weekend, Boyd could be seen crying with her teeth broken as her lips bled. She remembers thinking that she was only trying to get personal information from a man who was being arrested so that she could find him legal support, but police officers wouldn’t let her. Now she has to get new teeth, which could cost her thousands of dollars. 

“It’s gonna be at a cost and who’s gonna pay for that?” she asked. 

Boyd spoke to The TRiiBE on Saturday afternoon (July 18). She’s scheduled to speak at a press conference on July 20 at 10 a.m. in front of the George Washington Statue, located at 51st Street and King Drive. There, she’s expected to share her story about how she was unjustly targeted and attacked by a Chicago police officer while attending the protest.

A GoFundMe for Boyd’s medical, dental and mental health support has raised more than $75,000 over the weekend.

The incident took place on Friday, July 17 shortly after Boyd was invited to speak in front of a crowd of about 1,000 people at Buckingham Fountain, standing in solidarity with Black and Indigenous people. The rally turned into a march headed for the Christopher Columbus statue near Grant Park, where protestors were met with armed CPD officers protecting the statue.

“I was initially leaving the protest early,” said Boyd. “I was about 100 feet from the protest when I started to hear what I thought were gunshots. I went to go see what was happening without getting into the crowd at all.”

The sound of gunshots Miracle thought she was hearing were the fireworks going off at the Columbus statue that police officers were protecting while dodging water bottles and soda cans thrown at them by protestors. 

“So, I started recording on Facebook Live and that’s when I saw my friend crying near a police officer so I headed over,” said Boyd. “That’s when I noticed a guy who was being arrested and I tried to get his full name right before an officer smacked me.”

Another protestor on the other side of the street captured video of Boyd being hit in the mouth by the police officer. 

Unfortunately, this is not Boyd’s first bad experience with Chicago police officers. 

Boyd is a youth organizer and recent graduate of John Hope College Prep. She began organizing in 2018, when she was a high school sophomore, alongside her peers who were protesting against the closure of four Southside high schools in Englewood — Hope, Harper, TEAM and Robeson. 

“We started to organize to keep our schools open and to fully fund them,” she said. “Soon after, I joined GoodKids MadCity.” 

Since 2018, GoodKids MadCity has been a Black and Brown youth-led organization fighting to end gun violence in their communities on the South and West Sides of Chicago, while calling attention to the resources needed for them to thrive.You might have seen Boyd leading a march against gun violence or holding a press conference to demand support for the “Peacebook” ordinance aimed at tackling gun violence by providing resources to Black and Brown communities. 

“We host beach parties, Halloween parties [and] open mic events for the youth because we want to keep gun violence at an all-time low,” said Boyd. “We know how to keep our communities safer on the ground level because Lori Lightfoot is not in the streets putting in that footwork to keep the guns off the street.” 

Gun violence is something that hits too close to home for Boyd. 

“I’ve lost several members of my family to gun violence,” she said. “I saw my own brother get shot right in front of my face. It’s time we defund the police and put the guns down.” 

Boyd’s demands were echoed at the protest which called for Black and Indigenous solidarity through the decolonization of Zhigaagoong, derived from the Native Anishnaabemowin language and refers to the unceded Niswi-mishokdewinan territory East of Michigan avenue. The protest also called for an end to police violence. It was co-sponsored by 17 organizations. In their first time since the protests on May 30, the Chicago police responded with the use of chemical weapons.

Boyd was not the only one assaulted by police officers on July 17, and several other protestors had their personal belongings taken too. But the violence that erupted at the Columbus statue was not what organizers were intending to happen at all. 

“We came with water, feathers, dances, prayers, and songs,” said Frankie Pedersen, an organizer with Chi-Nations Youth Council. “Police officers came with batons and pepper spray.” 

Pedersen was one of dozens of protesters who were attacked by police officers with tear gas, pepper spray, and batons. 

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The rally began shortly after 5:00 p.m. at Buckingham fountain under a scorching sun with a performance ritual from an Aztec tribal group. The organizer’s demands were to decolonize Zhigaagoong through rematriation of unceded lands, recognizing First Nations Garden as a permanent space, opening more green spaces in the city, abolishing Columbus Day, denouncing the Doctrine of Discovery, and honoring all treaties. These demands are not new and Chi-Nations Youth Council have made them clear to Mayor Lightfoot. 

“It was really important for us to lead with intention at this rally,” said Pedersen. “We opened it up with song, dance, prayer and radical solidarity.” 

Chi-Nations Youth Council was one of several organizations leading the event including Black Lives Matter Chicago, BYP100, and ChiResists. During the rally there were several speakers, including Todd St. Hill from the AfroSocialists Caucus/Socialists of Color Caucus, part of the Democratic Socialists of America. In an interview with The TRiiBE, St. Hill expressed his frustration for the tactics Chicago police chose to use on the protestors.

“They used pepper spray and tear gas on protestors in the middle of a pandemic,” he said. “The police are counterposing our safety versus our compliance with their authority which they don’t have. They have power, but they don’t have authority.” 

In response to the protest, the Chicago Police Department and Mayor Lightfoot released statements accusing protestors of inciting the violence and claiming that CPD presence was for security purposes and to protect protesters’ First Amendment right to peacefully assemble. Twelve people were arrested for charges including battery on a police officer, mob action, and/or other felonies. 

“I’m sure they’re sick of seeing us,” said St. Hill. “But we’re sick of the police killing us.”

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the time and location of Boyd’s press conference on July 20.

Headshot of Kelly Garcia
is a freelance writer for The TRiiBE.