Hundreds of people swept through the Magnificent Mile and other parts of downtown Chicago early Monday, smashing windows, looting stores, confronting police and at one point exchanging gunfire with officers, authorities said.
More than 100 people were arrested as of 9 a.m., according to Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown. Thirteen officers were injured during the unrest, including a sergeant who was hit by a bottle. A civilian and private security guard were shot and wounded.
“What occurred in our downtown and surrounding communities was abject criminal behavior, pure and simple,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “And there cannot be any excuse for it. Period.”
City officials said the seeds for the violent crime spree were sown on social media Sunday afternoon following an officer involved shooting in the Englewood neighborhood. Officers shot and wounded a 20-year-old man Sunday after he fired shots at them while being chased, authorities said.
The man was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center and is expected to survive, Brown said.
More than an hour after the shooting, police and witnesses said a crowd of about 30 people faced off against officers holding a police line near 56th and Aberdeen streets. Authorities said someone fed false information to the angry group, including that police shot and wounded a child.
During a scuffle, one officer was hit with pepper spray and a second officer suffered a minor shoulder injury. Two people were arrested and a police car window was shattered by a brick, police added.
A large number of officers cordoned off streets in nearly every direction until the mood of the crowd cooled off. But by that time, Brown said, messages began appearing on social media encouraging people to head downtown.
The looting and vandalism began shortly after, with people streaming in and out of high-end stores. Some could be seen throwing merchandise into rental trucks and other large vehicles before driving away.
“This was not an organized protest,” Brown said. “Rather this was an incident of pure criminality. This was an act of violence against our police officers and against our city.”
The looting began shortly after midnight as people darted through broken store windows and doors along Michigan Avenue carrying shopping bags full of merchandise. Cars dropped off more people as the crowd grew.
One woman with shopping bags in her hands fell on the sidewalk as an officer was chasing her. Another woman appeared to have been pepper-sprayed. A rock was thrown at a squad car.
The scene was reminiscent of the looting that occurred earlier this summer amid the response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. Both Lightfoot and Brown implicitly criticized Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, saying there weren’t consequences for looters earlier this summer.
A Tribune investigation published this morning found that Foxx drops felony cases involving charges of murder and other serious offenses at a higher rate than her predecessor.
Lightfoot, who endorsed Foxx for reelection, became angry when asked follow-up questions about Foxx’s handling of cases and told a reporter not to bait her.
“What we’re saying is, as a result of what happened last night, there have to be consequences,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got teams of people that are aggressively out there identifying the people responsible, looking at the plates, and we’re going to bring them to justice.
“But when we do make those arrests, our expectation is that this is going to be treated with the level of seriousness it should be. Period,” she said. “Don’t try to bait us, mischaracterize, pit one against the other, we’re not playing that. We’re in a serious situation here and we need a serious response. That’s what we’re saying.”
The looting seemed to be centered in Streeterville and North Michigan Avenue, but some looting was reported on State Street in the Loop and on the Near North Side. By 4 a.m. police appeared to be getting things under control.
But some vandalism continued into the daylight hours, and the CTA suspended train and bus service into downtown during the morning rush, while the Illinois state police blocked off ramps from expressways. Bridges across the Chicago River were raised, except for the one on LaSalle Street for emergency vehicles.
People were seen running out of a PNC Bank, its windows smashed, at Huron and State streets. Down the block, other stores, including a Sally Beauty Supply, had been cleaned out by vandals. Other parts of downtown, including around Grand and Wabash avenues, were littered with trash.
Crowds repeatedly tried to bash in the windows of the Omega watch store at Delaware Place and Michigan Avenue.
A group of people went in and out through a broken window of the Louis Vuitton store along Walton Place across the street from the Drake Hotel. A squad car drove by and the group ran away.
But as the car rode off, at least one person tried to go into the shop. The police returned.
City officials will restrict access to the downtown from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. for time being. The Police Department has canceled all previously scheduled days off, and Brown has assigned a special team of detectives to review video footage.
“I don’t care, I do not care, whatever justification was given for this,” Lightfoot 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 of their property and their employees. Our police officers deserve to be able to do their job without having to worry about shots being fired, projectiles being thrown, and being maced. This is not anywhere near acceptable.”
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