Downtown Chicago’s “Magnificent Mile” was targeted by hundreds of protestors who looted and vandalized stores and shot at police officers early Monday, August 10. The storming of the Magnificent Mile followed another weekend of tumultuous violence in our nation’s third-largest city.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) arrested more than 100 people, thirteen officers were injured, and two people were shot and wounded. One of the shooting victims, a security guard, is in critical condition.
The Magnificent Mile is a 13-block stretch of North Michigan Ave., on the east side of the city, bordered on the south by the Chicago River and stretching up to Oak Street. It includes a full square mile, extending eastward toward Lake Michigan. The affluent area attracts many tourists with its includes hotels, stores, banks, shopping malls, office high-rises and historic buildings.
In a press conference Monday morning, CPD Superintendent David Brown attributed the destruction and thefts to a police shooting that had taken place on August 9. In a press conference, he said:
“The seeds for the shameful destruction we saw last night were sown in the 5700 block of South Racine Avenue. On Sunday afternoon, officers responded to a call of a man with a gun. A suspect was spotted, and officers attempted to interview the individual who quickly fled. As this person was running away, a gun held by this person was pointed at our police officers who gave chase and this person fired shots at our officers. Officers returned fire and struck the individual who was taken to the University of Chicago hospital and is expected to survive.”
“The shooter is a 20-year-old man with four previous arrests for charges including burglary, child endangerment and domestic battery. I am relieved to say that none of our officers were hurt in this shooting. A gun was recovered from the scene. After this shooting, a crowd gathered on the South Side following the police action. Tempers flared fueled by misinformation as the afternoon turned into evening.”
The “misinformation” Brown refers to are social media posts that quickly spread the story of the shooting. A search of Twitter shows many posts like: “Police killed 15 years old child in Chicago,” “Cops shot a teenaged boy” and “Police murdered a 15 year old boy. People have had enough.” At 3:00 a.m., the group Black Lives Matter (BLM) Chicago tweeted, “What CPD has protected today: “High end stores, Themselves. What CPD hasn’t protected today: A 15 year old Black boy.”
Other social media posts decried the city’s spending on projects in affluent neighborhoods while it ignored impoverished areas. Some complained about city spending on police departments while schools and neighborhoods struggled.
Of the vandalism and thefts, Brown said, “Criminals took to the streets with confidence that there’ll be no consequences for their actions.” He and Mayor Lori Lightfoot appeared to point a finger at prosecuting attorneys and courts. Lightfoot said:
“I call upon our state’s attorney and our courts to make sure that these individuals who are arrested and those to come are held accountable, put your best people on this. We have made the case. We have a video; we have the officer testimony. These people need to be held accountable and not cycle through the system. Judges that are holding these cases, you need to step up and be responsible. We can’t continue to allow this to happen.”
When a reporter responded by asking why only 400 officers were sent to the downtown area, when the mayhem was promoted on social media, Brown reiterated:
Again, I made this point in my comments, these looters act as if there are no consequences to their behavior and they based it on what happened previously, that we’ve made a lot of arrests during May and June and not many of those cases were prosecuted to the fullest extent. …These looters, these thieves, these criminals are emboldened by no consequences in the criminal system. They get released, many charges get dropped and so they feel emboldened to do it more.”
While Brown and Lightfoot did not name her directly, they seemed to be pointing at State’s Attorney for Cook County Kim Foxx. The morning of their press conference, the Chicago Tribune released a report analyzing the number of cases where Foxx had dropped all charges: “Kim Foxx drops more felony cases as Cook County state’s attorney than her predecessor, Tribune analysis shows.”
The Tribune reported that “a total of 25,183 people had their felony cases dismissed under Foxx through November 2019, up from 18,694 for a similar period” under previous state’s attorney Anita Alvarez. The analysis found that Foxx’ office dropped all charges against 29.9% of felony defendants.”
Foxx, however, defended her record. She said:
“We cannot confuse peaceful protesters with what we saw last night. Last night was not an extension of a peaceful protest. Last night was not an extension of righteous anger. Last night was a blatant display of criminal behavior. What drove that behavior and how we got there are questions that we can continue to answer.”
BLM Chicago complained about the Englewood shooting because “there is no body camera footage available for this interaction.” The group said protests will continue. In a press release, they stated:
The mayor clearly has not learned anything since May, and she would be wise to understand that the people will keep rising up until the CPD is abolished and our Black communities are fully invested in. Contrary to Mayor Lightfoot’s position, Black lives are and always will be more important than downtown corporations who siphon Tax Increment Financing (T.I.F.) money, while avoiding taxes, and exploiting the labor of Black and Brown Chicagoans. These corporations have “looted” more from our communities than a few protesters ever could, yet the Mayor reserves her anger for the latter. We will remain in the streets until our demands are met.”
Chicago’s violent crime rates have skyrocketed this year. In addition to the rampage along the Magnificent Mile, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, “Four people were killed and at least 36 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago over the weekend.” The paper said that in July, there were 406 shooting incidents and 105 murders – an increase in homicides almost 139% higher than July 2019.
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Photo from Kate Scott / Shutterstock.com
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