More than 100 people were arrested Monday following a night of looting and unrest that left 13 officers injured and caused damage in the city’s upscale Magnificent Mile shopping district and other parts of the city, authorities said.
Police Superintendent David Brown said it “was not an organized protest” but instead “an incident of pure criminality” that began following the shooting of a person by police the previous day in the city’s Englewood neighborhood. At one point early Monday, shots were fired at police and officers returned fire. Brown said a heavy police presence is expected in the downtown area until further notice.
“This was straight up, felony criminal conduct,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “This was an assault on our city.”
Those arrested were expected to face charges including looting, disorderly conduct, battery against police. Lightfoot said that the city has activated a neighborhood protection program that will be in place “for foreseeable days until we know our neighborhoods are safe.”
No officers were injured in the shooting, police spokesman Tom Ahern said on Twitter. Many of the businesses that were ransacked had recently opened after Chicago protests of George Floyd’s May 25 death in Minneapolis devolved into chaos.
The unrest began shortly after midnight and anti-police graffiti was seen in the area of the Magnificent Mile, which is one of Chicago’s most-visited tourist attractions. Hours earlier, dozens of people had faced off with police after officers shot and wounded a person Sunday in the Englewood neighborhood, located about 10 miles (16 klm) away.
Brown said after a crowd dissipated following that shooting “we are monitoring social media and we come across a post of a caravan of cars being prompted to go to our downtown and loot.”
Along the Magnificent Mile, people were seen going in and out of stores carrying shopping bags full of merchandise as well as at a bank, the Chicago Tribune reported, and as the crowd grew, vehicles dropped off more people in the area. On streets throughout the downtown area, empty cash drawers from stores were strewn about and ATMs were ripped open.
Stores miles from downtown were also ransacked, with parking lots littered with glass and items from inside the stores. Clothes hangers and boxes that once contained television sets and other electronics were seen—evidence that thieves had taken racks of clothes and removed them from the hangers.
“This was obviously very orchestrated,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a prominent Roman Catholic priest and activist on the city’s South Side, told WBBM-TV as cameras panned the downtown area.
One officer was seen slumped against a building, several arrests were made and a rock was thrown at a police vehicle, the newspaper said. Police worked early Monday to disperse the crowds.
There was a large police presence Monday morning outside an Apple store located north of Chicago’s downtown area. Blocks away, debris was strewn in parking lots in front of a Best Buy and a large liquor store.
SOURCE: Associated Press