You know it’s bad when a city has to resort to raising its drawbridges to prevent it from being sacked, like some medieval castle:
All bridges heading into downtown except for Lasalle are up. State Police checking ID’s again to get access downtown on expressways. Streets and San trucks blocking many roads. CPD confirming looting is still “not contained.” pic.twitter.com/GYKiEgx86z
— Alex Maragos (@AlexMaragosNBC) August 10, 2020
Bus and train service to downtown Chicago was also suspended this morning to prevent more looters from entering the area. Apparently, as word got around last night that the “stores were open,” so to speak, the number swelled:
Along the Magnificent Mile, people were seen going in and out of stores carrying shopping bags full of merchandise as well as at a bank, the Chicago Tribune reported, and as the crowd grew vehicles dropped off more people in the area. On streets throughout the downtown area, empty cash drawers from stores were strewn about and ATMs were ripped open.
Stores miles from downtown were also ransacked, with parking lots littered with glass and items from inside the stores. Clothes hangers and boxes that once contained television sets and other electronics were seen — evidence that thieves had taken racks of clothes and removed them from the hangers.
“This was obviously very orchestrated,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a prominent Roman Catholic priest and activist on the city’s South Side, told WBBM-TV as cameras panned the downtown area.
Ah, Michael Pfleger. Now there’s a name I’ve not heard in a long, long time. Anyway, as you might guess from the name, the Magnificent Mile isn’t a poor neighborhood. It’s Chicago’s answer to Fifth Avenue, with luxury shops catering to the sort of people who work in the area and can afford luxury items:
— Cisco Cotto (@CiscoCotto) August 10, 2020
According to the Chicago Tribune, a U-Haul van was seen pulling up to one looted store:
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.
“The watch store,” one officer said. “They’re gonna get it eventually.”
The Tribune reports that cops were fired on at least once last night, from a passing vehicle circa 4:30. No one was killed — but at least one cop was injured in a different incident:
— GianniG (@doubleg38street) August 10, 2020
A security guard on duty in the Loop was shot overnight and is in critical condition. I didn’t see the presser but this morning the superintendent of Chicago PD claims that officers have been fired at around the city on seven of the past nine days.
As for the looting itself, it was, uh, brazen:
SCENE IN CHICAGO LAST NUGHThttps://t.co/HE3KKc4twK
— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) August 10, 2020
Looting continues in downtown Chicago as of 5:45am. These people are coming out of the Block 37 mall on Randolph west of State Street. Looting has been going on all over downtown and the Magnificent Mile since around midnight. Police are all over the place. @WBBMNewsradio pic.twitter.com/qrBwm8KCZX
— Bernie Tafoya (@BernieTafoya) August 10, 2020
“This was straight up, felony criminal conduct,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “This was an assault on our city.” More than 100 people have been arrested. What precipitated this rampage? It’s, uh, not entirely clear, per WaPo. The best guess right now is that it was a backlash to an incident that happened on the south side yesterday. Cops got a report of a man with a gun; they found someone matching his description, and he ran. When they chased him, he fired at them, they say. They fired back, wounding — but not killing — him. A crowd began to gather, and police say that “someone fed false information to the angry group, including that police shot and wounded a child.” To hear cops tell it, in other words, this was misplaced anger at a justified police shooting that metastasized into a de facto riot.
The AP notes, though, that the crowd that gathered after the south side shooting eventually dispersed. So who it was who started looting? Did word of mouth about a supposedly dubious police shooting bring other people out into the streets? Most bad things in the world nowadays start on social media and this may be no exception:
Looting downtown was in response to man shot by police in Englewood.
A crowd gathered on the south side and confronted officers. Fueled by misinformation about shooting.
Officers monitored social media and saw posts encouraging people to loot downtown. @cbschicago
— Vi Nguyen (@ViNguyen) August 10, 2020
Remember that Trump announced a few weeks ago that he was going to “surge” federal agents to Chicago to help control crime there. Lightfoot initially balked, believing that he had a Portland-style “DHS in camouflage” deployment in mind, but relented when the local U.S. Attorney convinced her that this would be an old-fashioned task-force partnership between the feds and the city. Watching this fiasco play out this morning, I wonder if Trump is thinking of a Portland operation in Chicago after all. Last night’s riot fits perfectly into his campaign message that electing a Democrat president will only further encourage the breakdown of law and order in Democratic-run cities. The fact that rioters are still active in Portland despite the feds’ drawdown there bolsters his case, making it harder for Lightfoot to claim later that the federal presence is the “root cause” of the violence. That’s clearly not the case in Oregon.
Surprisingly, though, he hasn’t commented on Chicago yet as I write this at 11 a.m. ET. And in commenting on Portland, he seems inclined to stick with more traditional means of controlling violence:
Biden’s sufficiently worried about the politics of violence that he said last week, “I don’t want to defund police. I want to get police more money in order to deal with the things they badly need, from making sure they have access to community policing, that they have also in the departments social workers, psychologists, people who in fact can handle those god-awful problems that a cop has to have four degrees to handle.” We’ll see if his rhetoric starts to trend even more pro-cop after this, to protect his center flank from Trump. He can only go so far; to some on the left, job one today is minimizing what happened last night in Chicago, not confronting it.
I’ll leave you with this:
I’m not sure how any of this forwards the cause of social justice
— Bo Winegard (@EPoe187) August 10, 2020