CHICAGO (CN) — Chicago’s downtown and surrounding neighborhoods were ransacked by looters late Sunday and early Monday in what police believe to be an organized attack.
The Chicago Tribune reported vehicles dropping people off in the Loop and the upscale shopping district Magnificent Mile, where windows were broken and people were seen carrying shopping bags filled with merchandise as well as cash drawers.
The businesses in the area have already been hit hard by both the Covid-19 shutdown and the previous looting and destruction that erupted during protests in early June after the killing of George Floyd.
“We are waking up in shock this morning,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a press conference Monday.
“This was an assault on our city,” Lightfoot said, adding that “this is not anywhere near acceptable.”
Police Superintendent David Brown said Monday that the “seeds were sown” for the incident on Sunday afternoon when a 20-year-old Black man was shot by police in the South Side’s Englewood neighborhood.
According to police reports, officers responded to a call that a man had a gun and the suspect shot at officers while running from them. The officers fired back and hit him, and he is expected to recover from his injuries.
Brown said a crowd gathered after the shooting and “tempers flared, fueled by misinformation, as the afternoon turned into evening.”
Police discovered social media posts calling for looting downtown and dispatched 400 officers to the area, finding “car caravans headed into the Loop.”
Amidst the chaos 13 officers were injured — one was hit with a bottle and one suffered a broken nose during a fight with looters, according to Brown.
A police vehicle was also shot at, and several individuals were hit by gunfire, including a security guard and a civilian.
Over 100 arrests were made and police are continuing their search for others involved in the incident.
The mayor said “this had nothing to do with legitimate, protected First Amendment expression” like the “righteous uprising in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.”
“This was straight up felony criminal conduct,” she said, calling the incident “brazen and extensive criminal looting and destruction.”
“Criminals took to the streets with the confidence that there would be no consequences for their actions,” Brown pointed out. “CPD will not stand by while our beautiful downtown becomes a place that people fear.”
Lightfoot echoed the superintendent’s sentiments, asking residents to report the shooters and looters.
“We are coming for you,” the mayor said, directing her words to those involved. “We are not going to let our city be taken over by criminals and vigilantes.”
The mayor also called on prosecutors, the courts and judges to “step up” and hold those that are arrested for the incident accountable.
In response, Chief Judge Timothy Evans of the Cook County Circuit Court said “the administration of justice requires that each case be adjudicated impartially and independently based on the information presented to the court by the parties.”
“It should be noted that the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions require the court to impose accountability on a defendant in the form of punishment only after finding that the defendant is guilty of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt,” Judge Evans added. “The court must not only consider the fact that the defendant has been arrested, but also the evidence that supports the allegations and the evidence, or lack of evidence, that supports the defense.”
Access to the affected areas was blocked early Monday morning, with public transportation suspended and the bridges over the Chicago River lifted to stop more vehicles from entering the Loop.
The county court and the federal court located in the Loop were both closed Monday.
According to the police department, the downtown area with be closed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and will see a heavy police presence until further notice.
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