Hundreds of individuals who participated in widespread looting and vandalism across downtown Chicago early Monday engaged in “abject criminal behavior” and were not part of an organized protest, the city’s mayor said.
Dozens of stores, banks and other businesses were broken into and burglarized. More than 100 people were arrested and at least 13 officers were injured, according to police.
Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot described the overnight chaos as an “assault on our city,” and called on Illinois’ criminal justice system to hold those involved accountable.
“This had nothing to do with legitimate, protected First Amendment expression,” Lightfoot said during a news conference Monday morning. “What occurred in our downtown and surrounding communities was abject criminal behavior, pure and simple.”
“These were not poor people engaged in petty theft to feed themselves and their families,” she added. “This was straight-up felony criminal conduct.”
Looting in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile shopping district and other areas of the city’s downtown area began around 11:30 p.m. Sunday, police said.
Video captured by local reporters and bystanders showed people breaking windows to enter and burglarize various stores, including a Nordstrom, Best Buy, Pandora and 7-Eleven. Some individuals who participated in the looting could be seen piling into cars with stolen goods and fleeing the scene.
Authorities believe the looting may be connected to an officer-involved shooting that occurred in the city’s Englewood neighborhood on Sunday afternoon, Chicago Police Superintendent Dan Brown said during the news conference Monday.
Officers had responded to a report of a man with a gun, Brown said. The suspect, a 20-year-old man, allegedly fled the scene when officers approached him. The suspect allegedly fired a gun at the officers as he was running away, and police returned fire and struck him. The suspect was transported to a hospital and is expected to survive his injuries, Brown said.
Following the shooting, there was a “very intense interaction” between police at the scene and a crowd that had gathered nearby, Brown said.
Social media posts shared in the wake of the shooting encouraged people to loot downtown later that night, Brown said. Police dispatched about 400 officers to the areas expected to be targeted.
Some of the stores damaged overnight were still in the process of recovering from looting that occurred during the nationwide anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody in May.
But city officials rejected any suggestions that the most recent looting was part of a similar protest. Brown said what unfolded was “pure criminality” and “violence against police.”
“Criminals took to the streets with confidence that there would be no consequences for their actions,” he said. “I for one refuse to allow these cowardly acts to hold our city hostage.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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