Police shooting triggers rage over Chicago

AP
Hundreds of people rushed into downtown Chicago on Monday following a police shooting, with vandals smashing the windows of dozens of businesses and making off with merchandise.
AP
Police shooting triggers rage over Chicago
AFP

Bridges across the Chicago River were raised on Monday to control access to downtown as widespread looting broke out in the US city. The looting which occurred throughout downtown and near-north neighborhoods led to several arrests. 

Hundreds of people descended on downtown Chicago early on Monday following a police shooting on the city’s South Side, with vandals smashing the windows of dozens of businesses and making off with merchandise, cash machines and anything else they could carry, police said.

Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters the Sunday afternoon shooting of the man who had opened fire on officers apparently prompted a social media post that urged people to form a car caravan and converge on the business and shopping district.

About 400 additional officers were dispatched to the area after the department spotted the post. Over several hours, police made more than 100 arrests and 13 officers were injured, including one who was struck in the head with a bottle, Brown said.

Brown dismissed any suggestion that the chaos was part of an organized protest of the shooting, calling it “pure criminality” that included occupants of a vehicle opening fire on police who were arresting a man they spotted carrying a cash register.

No officers were wounded by gunfire, but a security guard and a civilian were hospitalized in critical condition after being shot, and five guns were recovered, he said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed the melee was not a protest. “This was straight-up felony criminal conduct,” she said. “This was an assault on our city.”

The mayhem brightened the national spotlight that has been on Chicago for weeks after a surge in gun violence that resulted in more homicides in July than any month in decades. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticized the city’s handling of the violence, recently ordered more federal agents to Chicago to take part in what Attorney General William Barr called “classic crime fighting.”

Further ratcheting up the tensions in the city was a video circulating on Facebook that falsely said Chicago police had shot and killed a 15-year-old boy. Posted at 6:30pm on Sunday, the video shows upset residents confronting officers near the scene where police shot and wounded an adult suspect they said had fired at them that day. By Monday morning, the footage had been watched nearly 100,000 times.

Latrell Allen, 20, was charged with attempted murder on Monday for allegedly firing on officers, according to Chicago police. Officers returned fire, wounding the man, who was taken to a hospital for treatment. He was expected to recover. Brown said the man had a long criminal history, including arrests for domestic battery and child endangerment.

Witnesses to the unrest described a scene that bore a striking resemblance to the unrest that unfolded during protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Brown suggested that the lenient treatment of people arrested then played a role in what happened on Monday.

“Not many of those cases were prosecuted to the full extent,” he said. “These looters, these thieves, these criminals being emboldened by (the lack of) consequences ... emboldened to do more.”

At the same news conference, Lightfoot addressed looters directly, telling them police had collected surveillance video and other evidence that will be used to arrest and prosecute as many as possible.

“We saw you, and we will come after you,” she warned.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx disputed any suggestion her office had shied away from prosecuting people who were arrested for ransacking businesses weeks ago. She said none of those cases had been dropped.

“That is simply not true,” she said. “Those cases are coming to court now.”

Videos of the vandalism showed huge crowds smashing their way into businesses and streaming out of the broken windows and doors with clothes and other merchandise.

Special Reports
Top