CHICAGO — Hundreds of looters targeted businesses in the Mag Mile and River North areas late Sunday into early Monday, clearing out stores as 100 people were arrested and 13 police officers injured during skirmishes throughout the night.
SWAT team members with rifles descended on Garfield Park near Madison and Karlov Monday afternoon after more reports of looting, and an officer was injured.
CPD Superintendent David Brown said social media posts following a police-involved shooting in Englewood Sunday afternoon sowed the seeds of chaos.
Police said a 20-year-old man matching the description of a suspect ran from officers when they tried to interview him Sunday afternoon, and officers returned fire after he fired at them while fleeing. He’s expected to survive.
After the shooting, Brown says a crowd started to gather nearby and tempers started to flare. Later in the day, Brown said CPD became aware of social media posts indicating a child had been shot, and others encouraging looting downtown.
“Tempers flare fueled by misinformation,” Brown said.
While 400 police officers were sent to the downtown area, they weren’t able to stop the pillaging.
Caravans of cars headed to the Loop, and dozens of people were seen ransacking stores after midnight Monday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the looting “straight up felony criminal conduct.”
“Let’s be clear, this had nothing to do with legitimate protesting,” Lightfoot said.
More than a 100 arrests were made, and 13 officers injured during confrontations with looters. Some officers even exchanged gunfire with someone in a passing car as they were trying to arrest a man caught carrying a cash register near Michigan Avenue and Lake Street.
“To those engaged this criminal behavior, let’s be clear: we are coming after you,” Lightfoot said.
Members of Black Lives Matter Chicago appeared to support the looting during a press conference in front of the first police district Monday.
“I don’t care if someone decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike; that makes sure that person eats, that makes sure they have clothes, can make some kind of money,” said Ariel Atkins, Black Lives Matter Chicago.
“Anything they want to take, take it; these businesses have insurance, they’re going to get their money back,”Atkins said.
Atkins said community members still didn’t believe the version of events surrounding the shooting of a 20-year-old man by police Sunday.
“Police say a lot of things. They didn’t even have their body cams on if they can’t provide us with video which is opposite from what people on street said happen,” Atkins said.
Early in the day, WGN’s Judy Wang reported seeing people filling trash bags with merchandise while she was on the scene early Monday morning.
Ald. Brian Hopkins (D-2nd Ward) said he witnessed people driving up in vehicles, smashing windows of stores on Michigan Avenue, grabbing items and drive away. The Apple store at North Avenue and Clybourn Avenue was also looted.
Many stores hit by looters were just beginning to restock after looting in late May and early June when they were hit again Monday morning, even after steps were taken to prevent it.
“This wasn’t simple glass to break, probably about 1,000 pounds, tempered and strong… the safest you could get,” said Brian Lowe, Chicago Glass of Illinois.
High-end stores like Gucci, Dior and Hermes were cleaned out, as thieves took everything including the mannequins.
Small businesses were hit hard too, and some not for the first time. Potash Market on the Gold Coast had to board up windows and doors after looters smashed the glass overnight. Across the street, Big Shoulders Coffee Shop was looted for the second time in recent months.
There was an increased police presence in the area Monday as business owners cleaned up and surveyed the damage.
These are tough times for small businesses, and Big Shoulders founder Tim Coonan says he’s not feeling very optimistic today.
Asked later whether the city would ask for federal assistance in addressing any potential looting in the future, Lightfoot said they would not ask for troops to be sent to Chicago.
“This is not an incident that requires the National Guard. Period. Full Stop,” she said.
Access to the downtown area is now being restricted from 8 pm to 6am, with several streets closed and some bridges over the river will be up.
City officials said this is not a curfew, so residents and workers whose businesses are downtown will have access.
In downtown Chicago, CTA train and bus service was suspended and expressway ramps were closed for several hours. The bridges at Michigan, Columbus, State, Wabash and Dearborn were lifted as well.
Around 7:30 a.m. service started to resume, bridges were lowered and ramps were reopened
Monday afternoon, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said everyone needs to continue to work together to find solutions for the violence plaguing Chicago.
“All hands on deck means instead of pointing fingers, we work together,” Foxx said. She said people are looking for answers, not blame.