The authorities in Chicago on Monday limited the access to the city centre after a night of violence, looting and chaos, reported BBC. Entry to the area will be restricted between 8 pm and 6 am amid “heavy police presence” until further notice, said Police Superintendent David Brown. The officials also suspended transportation services to the downtown area and bridges temporarily.
Tension started brewing from Sunday afternoon after reports of a man being shot by the police started doing the rounds. By evening, crowds gathered in the downtown area. They damaged windows and shops and looted merchandise. Thirteen police officers were injured while a civilian and a security guard also suffered gunfire wounds.
“Criminals took to the streets with confidence there would be no consequences for their actions,” said Brown. “I for one refuse to allow these cowardly acts to hold our city hostage.” The Chicago Police have arrested over 100 people till Monday. Brown said the “shameful destruction” was “fuelled by misinformation”. Over 400 police officers were deployed in the downtown area after social media posts encouraged looting, he added.
Regarding the police shooting that triggered the violence and looting, Brown said the police attempted to interview the man who had a gun, but he fled and fired shots at the officers. He added that officers merely retaliated. The man is currently admitted to a hospital and likely to survive.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot condemned the violence on Monday. She highlighted the differences between Sunday’s unrest and the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death. “These individuals engaged in what can only be described as brazen and extensive criminal looting and destruction – and to be clear, this had nothing to do with legitimate, protected First Amendment expression,” she added. “This was an assault on our city.”
Lightfoot said the looters were not “poor people engaged in petty theft to feed themselves and their family, this was straight-up felony criminal conduct”. The mayor said those responsible for the unrest would be held accountable. “I do not care whatever justification was given for this,” she said. “There is no justification for criminal behaviour ever. You have no right.”
Chicago has been witnessing a spike in violent crimes and looting since May after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. There have been 94 murders in 28 days till August 2 – a big leap from 37 in the same period a year ago, reported Bloomberg citing police data.
The George Floyd murder
On May 25, four police officials detained Floyd after he had allegedly used a counterfeit bill at a store in Minnesota, United States. Protests grew after a widely shared video showed one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, kneeling for almost nine minutes on Floyd’s neck. Floyd was seen gasping for breath, pleading with the officials saying, “I can’t breathe”. He died on the spot. An autopsy found that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.
Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder. The three other police officers were charged with aiding and abetting the murder. They are currently lodged in a local jail. All four police officers were fired a day after Floyd’s death.
A Minneapolis judge on June 8 set $1 million (approximately Rs 7.60 crore) as the bail amount for Chauvin. Floyd’s death has sparked international outrage with many protests turning violent across the United States and the United Kingdom.