‘Looting is Reparations’: BLM Protesters Gather Outside Chicago PD in Support of Looters Who Ransacked City Sunday Night
Harriet Alexander and Jennifer Smith, Daily Mail, August 11, 2020
Black Lives Matter Chicago said early Monday’s looting of stores was a form of ‘reparations’ as the group held a protest Monday night in support of the more than 100 people arrested after an evening of violence.
Downtown Chicago was otherwise quiet after authorities cut off access, with drawbridges leading into the city pulled up and freeway exits blocked after riots sparked by a false rumor of a child shot by police.
At least 13 police officers were injured as the violence claimed an estimated $65 million in property damage.
Ariel Atkins, a BLM organizer, called the looting ‘reparations’.
‘I don’t care if someone decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike store, because that makes sure that person eats,’ Atkins said. ‘That makes sure that person has clothes.
‘Anything they wanted to take, they can take it because these businesses have insurance.’
Earlier, Mayor Lori Lightfoot had warned looters who ransacked the city that they are being sought by police and angrily hit back at questions over whether a failure to prosecute those involved in the looting after George Floyd’s death had created a sense of impunity.
The man whose actions sparked the unrest, 20-year-old Latrell Allen, was charged with attempted murder of police.
Allen, who had previous arrests for child endangerment, domestic battery and burglary, was confronted by police on Sunday afternoon and fled, turning around and shooting multiple rounds at officers as he fled. He was shot and injured by police, returning fire, and rumor then spread that a child had been killed by officers.
Social media was soon alight with rallying cries for protests and looting.
On Monday afternoon, SWAT teams were seen patrolling the streets, in a bid to avoid a repeat of the chaos.
Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx dropped charges against several hundred protesters arrested for looting and other offenses during the George Floyd protests.
David Brown, Chicago Police Superintendent, said at the Monday press conference that looters could have been behaving ‘as if there are not consequences’ because of ‘what happened previously’.
A reporter, addressing the police chief, said: ‘It almost sounds as though you were saying the reason we have this is the courts and the prosecutors were not doing their job, that they were going too easy on the looters from the last time around. Is that my understanding?’
Brown replied: ‘Don’t take it from me. Just go about what’s been done. I don’t want to do your job for you but go about what’s been done. There were no consequences for the people arrested.’
At this point, Lightfoot stood up and addressed the reporter.
‘Let’s be clear,’ she said. ‘Don’t bait us! OK? Do not bait us. Do not bait us.
‘This is a serious situation. People are concerned about their safety. Officers are concerned about their safety. So don’t bait us.
‘What we’re saying is, as a result of what happened last night, there have to be consequences.
‘We’ve got teams of people that are aggressively out there identifying the people responsible, looking at the plates, and working on bringing them to justice.
‘But when we do, and we do make those arrests, our expectation is that is going to be treated with the level of seriousness that it should be, period.’
She angrily denied that Foxx’s decision, or any other ruling by the Chicago authorities, contributed towards the unrest.
‘Don’t try to bait us, mischaracterize, pit one against the other,’ she said.
‘We’re not playing that. We’re in a serious situation here, and we need a serious response. That’s what we’re saying, period.’
The tense stand-off that lasted several hours on Sunday night and in to Monday morning was described by Deputy Police Chief Yolanda Talley as ‘very hostile’.
In response to that incident, people on social media organized for a caravan of cars to descend on the city’s downtown shopping district to loot.
Police found out about the posts and within 15 minutes were downtown – but the violence had begun.
Cars plowed through storefronts to give the crowds easy access.
Despite there being 400 officers dispatched to the area, the officers struggled to keep up with the crowds.
One officer was attacked with a bottle, another had his nose broken and a group of different officers were shot at by drive-by assailants while trying to arrest other looters.
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.
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.
Train and bus service into downtown was temporarily suspended at the request of public safety officials, the Chicago Transit Authority said on Twitter.
Bridges over the Chicago River were lifted, preventing travel to and from the downtown area, and Illinois State Police blocked some expressway ramps into downtown.
On Monday morning, police were still arresting people at a Best Buy which was among the stores that had been ransacked.
Some of the city’s bridges were raised and tunnels were closed while police tried to regain control of the situation.
Lightfoot said it was disturbing that the looters targeted small businesses that are still struggling to recover from months of COVID-19 closures.
‘This was an assault on our city. It undermines public safety and breathes a sense of insecurity among our residents.
‘It undermines our recovery efforts – these same stores were hit previously, not just by looting but by closures related to COVID-19.
‘They are also small stores and restaurants all of which we’re in the process of recovering and getting back to work, and now this.’
She said there was ‘no justification’ for the looting, and said it had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, or George Floyd, or Michael Brown – the Missouri teenager shot dead six years ago Sunday.
‘I don’t care – I do not care – whatever justification was given for this,’ she said.
‘There is no justification for criminal behavior ever.
‘You have no right to take and destroy the property of others.
‘Our residents deserve to be safe.
‘Our businesses deserve to understand and enjoy safety and security,’ she said.
She pleaded with prosecutors and the courts to do their part to bring those responsible to justice once they are found and identified.
‘Our police officers deserve to be able to do their job without having to worry about shots being fired, being maced – this is not anywhere near acceptable.
‘I call upon our state’s attorney and our courts to make sure these individuals are arrested and held accountable.
‘Put your best people on this. We have made the case – these people need to be held accountable. ‘We can’t continue to allow this to happen,’ she said.
‘We woke up in shock this morning. These individuals engaged in brazen destruction.
‘This had nothing to do with legitimate protected First Amendment speech. Regardless what occurred in our downtown was abject criminal behavior, pure and simple.
‘There cannot be any excuse for it. Period.
‘This was not legitimate First Amendment speech, not poor people engaged in petty theft to feed themselves and their families…
‘This was straight up felony criminal conduct,’ she said.
It was one of a handful of incidents of unrest across America that coincided with the sixth anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.