The Police Superintendent called the looting a “purely criminal” matter, with no connection to any peaceful protest.
Two people were shot, more than 100 people were arrested and 13 police officers were injured when a crowd smashed windows and looted stores along Michigan Avenue and in the north of the city between Sunday night and Monday morning.
“We are waking up in shock this morning,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot, calling it “ruthless looting and criminal destruction.”
Chicago Police Superintendent (CPD) David Brown, who joined the mayor for a press conference at the police headquarters on Monday, called the looting a “purely criminal” matter, with no connection to any peaceful protests.
“The criminals took to the streets confident that their actions would have no consequences,” Brown said, adding that the police will aggressively pursue all those involved in the looting.
“You have no right to take and destroy the property of others,” Lightfoot said. “We will go for you. I don’t care what justification they have for this. They have no justification ”.
Police have initiated a plan to protect the area, and Brown said a team of detectives has been assigned to record security footage of all incidents.
Brown said police will not stand by and see that downtown Chicago does not become “a place that people fear.” He promised a “strong police presence” to restore order, and said access to the city center will be restricted from 8 pm to 6 am, starting today.
For several hours in the morning, bus and train services were suspended in the area bounded by Fullerton avenues, Ashland and Cermak Road, the CTA said. The transit agency reestablished normal service shortly before 8 a.m.
All downtown bridges were lifted except for LaSalle St. The Chicago Department of Transportation said they would lower again at 7:15 a.m., but continued street closures in downtown could be expected throughout the day.
Brown said, “the seeds of the shameful destruction we saw last night” began with a shooting in Englewood on Sunday afternoon where police were involved. At around 2:30 p.m., officers responded to a complaint against a gunman, who first fled when officers arrived, Brown said, and then shot them. Officers returned fire and hit the shooter, who was taken to the University of Chicago Hospital and is expected to survive. The 20-year-old man faced charges of domestic assault, reckless conduct, and endangering children, Brown said.
After the shooting, a crowd gathered in the area. “Tempers flared, fueled by misinformation,” Brown said. Shortly afterward, the police learned of “various social media posts” about the organization of looting in the city center. He said CPD reacted by deploying 400 agents to the center.
The first looting, Brown said, occurred at 87th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway, but “soon, caravans of cars were heading to the Loop” to begin looting.
Lightfoot said the public has a responsibility to help stop looters.
“Do not shelter criminals,” Lightfoot said. “The people in [the] neighborhoods know who these people are … This is your time to step up … We can’t do this without you. We are not going to let our city be taken over by criminals and vigilantes ”.
Brown and Lightfoot also asked the Cook County state attorney’s office to take looting arrests seriously, arguing that many arrests made for looting in May and June were not pursued. When prosecutors dismiss those cases, looters believe there will be no serious consequences for committing these crimes, they said.
Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx has rejected that accusation, claiming that the data does not support the “narrative” that people arrested on gun charges are quickly released and commit more crimes.
Lightfoot was angered at Monday’s press conference when a reporter tried to follow up on the apparent criticism of Foxx.
“Let’s not kid ourselves,” he said.
Cleanup efforts were underway in the city center in the morning, as broken glass from shattered windows littered many streets in the Loop.
Several businesses along Lake Street, from LaSalle to Michigan, were looted, as was a jewelry store and a McDonald’s near the Daley Center.
One woman, who declined to give her name, said she brought her own baseball bat to protect herself while sweeping glass outside the McDonald’s.
Chief Judge Timothy Evans ordered all Cook County courts in downtown Chicago to close Monday due to restricted access to the area. Bail Courts in Leighton Courts, Domestic Violence Courts, Juvenile Justice Courts, and Suburban Municipal District Courts will remain open.
All non-bond cases scheduled for Monday will be resumed for the next 30 days and affected parties will be notified of their new hearing dates, according to the Supreme Court chief’s office.
Chicago federal courts also closed.
Videos posted on social media showed large crowds smashing windows and entering stores along the Magnificent Mile.
CPD officers exchanged gunfire with an armed person near Michigan Ave. and Lake St. Monday morning, spokesman Tom Ahern said. No officer was injured.
The incident occurred shortly before 4 a.m. and no one was shot in that incident, according to the spokesman for the Civil Police Responsibility Office (COPA), Ephraim Eaddy. This office will investigate the shooting.
A security guard was injured in a shooting shortly before 4 a.m. in the 400 block of North Clark St., according to Chicago Fire Department officials. He was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.
A second man was shot around 2 a.m. near Madison and Wabash, fire officials said. He was also taken to Northwestern in critical condition.
Outside a Best Buy store near Marcey and Halsted streets, about two dozen store employees and neighborhood volunteers, like Bruce Ackerman, were cleaning up after a night of looting. Much of the parking lot was littered with empty TV boxes and plastic foam.
Ackerman, 30, who lives nearby, said he was thinking about launching his drone to survey the area, then thought he might be more helpful with a broom.
“This is the least I can do,” Ackerman said. “This is unfortunate. It doesn’t really help any cause. I too am a black boy who lives in this neighborhood. What if (Best Buy) closes and they don’t want to reopen? It will affect the whole neighborhood. “
Bruce Alper, 66, was helping clean at Best Buy. Alper, an attorney, drove from River North after learning of the destruction.
“I am terribly sad and horrified by what happened last night,” Alper said. “Has no sense. It is just a criminal activity. It is not related to any cause … This is just criminals and thugs who are destroying our city and neighborhoods. “
Chicago and the surrounding suburbs suffered looting and vandalism in late May and early June during riots following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Authorities estimated the looting caused damage of more than $ 20 million in Cook County.