Police in Chicago confirmed that more than a hundred people were arrested and 13 officers were injured with a lot of smashed windows, looting from stores and clashed with police early Monday in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile shopping district and other parts of the city’s downtown.
Up to 400 officers were deployed to Chicago’s downtown area after seeing posts on social media encouraging a “caravan” of cars to engage in looting, Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown disclosed at a news conference on Monday.
It was also confirmed that police and the looters fired shots at each other at a point, but there was no officer that was injured by a bullet, but Brown said a security guard and a civilian were hospitalized in critical condition after being shot.
Brown said the social media posts appear to have been prompted by an incident earlier in the day in which police officers wounded a 20-year-old man with a long criminal history who shot at them. A Facebook video later circulated falsely claiming police had shot and killed a 15-year-old boy.
“This was not an organized protest. Rather, this was an incident of pure criminality,” Brown said. “This was an act of violence against our police officers and against our city.”
Along the Magnificent Mile, people were seen going in and out of stores carrying shopping bags full of merchandise and also running out of a bank that had its windows smashed, the Chicago Tribune reported, and as the crowd grew vehicles dropped off more people in the area.
One officer was seen slumped against a building and a rock was thrown at a police vehicle, the newspaper said. Police worked early Monday to disperse the crowds.
Brown said a heavy police presence is expected in the downtown area and a special team of investigators will examine hours of footage from Sunday night and pledged “to pursue these offenders to the fullest extent of the law.”
Those arrested were expected to face charges including looting, disorderly conduct, and battery against police. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called this incident “abject criminal behavior.”
“This is not a legitimate First Amendment protected speech. These were not poor people engaged in petty theft to feed themselves and their family,” she said. “This was straight-up felony criminal conduct.”
Lightfoot said the city has activated a neighborhood protection program that will be in place “for foreseeable days until we know our neighborhoods are safe.”
Lightfoot said she had talked early in the morning with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and they agreed there was no need to call in the state’s National Guard.
She also sent a clear message to President Donald Trump that his intervention was not welcome. Trump has criticized the city’s handling of increased levels of gun violence, which resulted in more homicides in July than any month in decades, and last month sent federal agents to Chicago in what was called an anti-crime initiative.
“No, we do not need federal troops in Chicago. Period. Full stop,” Lightfoot said. “I’m sure the president will have his way with this incident, but I’m calling upon him to do the things that we do need. We need common-sense gun control.’’
Brown suggested that lenient treatment in Chicago to those engaged in criminal activity during the protests that followed the George Floyd police killing in Minneapolis may have emboldened the looters and vandals Monday morning.
Lightfoot was also critical of the limited prosecutions by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who defended herself, saying, “Those cases are coming to court now.”
Videos of the vandalism showed large groups of people ransacking stores and loading merchandise into vehicles, pulling cash registers, and even teller machines out of shops.
Brown said the unrest, which began shortly after midnight, was sparked by shooting in the city’s South Side hours earlier. Officers responded to reports of a man with a gun and the 20-year-old suspect fled and pointed a weapon at police. Officers returned fire and struck the suspect, who Brown said is expected to survive.
A gun was recovered and the suspect was taken to a hospital for treatment and three officers involved also were taken to a hospital for observation, according to a statement from police.
“After this shooting, a crowd gathered on the South Side,” he said. “Tempers flared, fueled by misinformation as the afternoon turned into evening.”
More than an hour after the shooting, police, and witnesses said the crowd faced off with police after someone reportedly told people that police had shot and wounded a child. That crowd eventually dispersed.