The Chicago authorities arrested more than 100 people and briefly raised bridges to the downtown as unrest and looting overnight caused widespread damage in the city’s main business and shopping district, officials said on Monday.
The police superintendent, David Brown, said in a news conference that more than 400 police officers were dispatched after the police became aware of a social media post about potential looting in the downtown.
The arrests were made on charges of looting, disorderly conduct and battery against the police, he said, and 13 officers were injured, including one struck with a bottle and one whose nose was broken. A security guard and a civilian were struck during a melee, he added, and both were taken to a hospital in critical condition.
Early Monday morning, city officials briefly raised most of the bridges to the downtown and suspended some train and bus service to the area. Dozens of police officers remained there after the bridges were lowered, and business owners began to pick through the damage: cash registers overturned in a pharmacy, windows broken at high-end stores, empty boxes scattered outside a jewelry store.
“We are waking up in shock this morning,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at the news conference. She called the actions “brazen and extensive criminal looting and destruction” that had nothing to do with the “righteous uprising” and protected free speech of protests after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May.
She said the looting and shutdown came as many businesses were struggling to try to get back on their feet following coronavirus pandemic closures, and urged the community to support their fragile recovery.
Superintendent Brown said the “seeds” for the widespread looting were “sown” on Sunday afternoon, after police officers and a man shot at one another in the city’s Englewood neighborhood. Around 2:30 p.m., a 20-year-old man shot at officers, who returned fire, he said. The man, who was not identified, was “expected to survive,” he said, and no officers were hurt.
After the shooting, he said, a crowd in the neighborhood confronted officers. “Tempers flared, fueled by misinformation as the afternoon turned into evening,” he said. “That grew and grew into the late-night hours.”
The officials said that a special team of investigators were looking through surveillance video to try to arrest more people who took part in the looting, which Mayor Lightfoot described as “straight-up felony criminal conduct.”
Videos that were circulating on social media captured the early morning scenes of hundreds of people in the streets, dozens of police officers, looting and confrontations with the police.
Some of the videos and photos showed people entering various businesses, storefronts vandalized, windows smashed and sidewalks littered with boxes. In one widely viewed recording of the protests, police officers can be seen confronting a group of people in the street when someone hurled an object at one of the officers, striking him in the face. He and other officers then charged the people, who fled.
The Chicago Transit Authority said Monday morning that at least half a dozen bus and train lines were shut down “at the request of public safety officials.” By about 8 a.m., service began to resume and the city lowered the bridges. The city has raised the bridges several times this summer, in an effort to limit access to the city’s main business and shopping district during protests against racism and police violence.
In the shooting on Sunday afternoon, officers were called to investigate reports of a man with a gun, the department said. Officers confronted the person in an alley, he fled and then opened fire, the department said in a statement.
“Officers then discharged their firearms, striking the offender,” the statement said.
The department said it had opened an investigation into the shooting.