Downtown Chicago reopens for cleanup in wake of widespread looting

Chicago News

iStock/MelpomenemBY: KARMA ALLEN

(WASHINGTON) — Downtown Chicago’s expressways and bridges reopened on Tuesday as business owners and emergency workers rushed to recover in the wake of widespread looting and violence.

City officials had placed the area on lockdown, restricting access to residents and business owners, following hours of looting and vandalism that damaged businesses and resulted in more than 100 arrests, according to police.

Thirteen officers were injured, including a sergeant who was attacked with a bottle, and at least two civilians were shot during the unrest after midnight Sunday, as hundreds overran the city’s upscale Magnificent Mile shopping district and surrounding areas with vandalism and violence, authorities said.

The travel restrictions lifted early Tuesday morning, but city officials said it would be a while for things to go back to normal with broken glass, trash and debris still strewn about the streets in some areas.

Much of the unrest happened along the Magnificent Mile, one of the city’s most-popular tourist attractions, where looters were seen stuffing vehicles with shopping bags full of stolen merchandise and store equipment.

ATM machines were compromised, cash registers were stolen and at least one bank was broken into, police said.

The unrest came as a triple blow for businesses that are struggling to stay afloat amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some business were targeted by looters earlier this summer in the wake of anti-racism and police brutality protests.

Lightfoot said this week’s criminal activity had nothing to do with “legitimate” organized protests and described it as “an assault on our city.” Lightfoot has repeatedly knocked down calls for federal intervention.

“Again, no, we do not need federal troops in Chicago, period, full stop,” Lightfoot told reporters Monday.

Black Lives Matter Chicago claimed those involved were actually protesting.

About 200 protesters gathered outside a police station in the South Loop Monday night for a “solidarity rally” for those arrested, noting that they had been protesting against police brutality.

Investigators acknowledged the unrest started after inaccurate reports online about an unarmed juvenile being shot by police in the Englewood area. The shooting victim was actually a 20-year-old man who allegedly opened fire on police while being chased, authorities said.

“The mayor clearly has not learned anything since May, and she would be wise to understand that the people will keep rising up until the [Chicago Police Department] is abolished and our Black communities are fully invested in,” Black Lives Matter Chicago said in a statement. “When protesters attack high-end retail stores that are owned by the wealthy and service the wealthy, that is not ‘our’ city and has never been meant for us.”

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