Chicago to have 'limited' National Guard presence after curfew imposed over protests

Chicago to have 'limited' National Guard presence after curfew imposed over protests
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Chicago will have a limited National Guard presence after a curfew was imposed over protests in response to George Floyd’s death, officials said Sunday.

“Governor [J.B.] Pritzker [D]—at my request—has ordered a small contingent of the National Guard to maintain a limited presence and support our police in order to ensure we don’t have a repeat of last night,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) said. 

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She also said the city’s 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will also remain in place “until further notice.” 

Pritzker (D) confirmed he is activating the Illinois National Guard at Lightfoot’s request.

“This is an immensely challenging moment for our city, our state, and our country, one born from decades and centuries of systemic racism,” Pritzker said in a statement. “To those peacefully expressing the pain, fear, and rage of this moment, I hear you. Your voices matter. We must address the profound injustices in our society and bring about real and meaningful change.” 

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Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said the National Guard’s presence will be on the “outer perimeter” of the downtown area, The Chicago Tribune reported

Pritzker activated 374 Illinois National Guard soldiers to assist the Chicago Police Department, according to the Tribune. 

Lightfoot said it is “absolutely devastating” to see images and read reports of “reckless destruction” across Chicago and the country. 

"I am still mourning the death of George Floyd, as so many of us are. I am still processing the pain from that injustice, even as we’ve turned our focus to confronting what happened last night . . . And I know so many of you are as well,” she said. 

"And that’s also why I am hurt and angry at those who decided to try hijack this moment and use it as an opportunity to bring havoc . . . to loot and destroy,” she added. 

Sometimes violent protests have broken out across the country in response to the death of Floyd, who died last week in Minneapolis shortly after he was arrested. Video footage of his arrest shows an officer kneeling on his neck as Floyd said he can’t breathe. 

The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other Minneapolis officers were fired but not charged. 

Lightfoot said the violence during the local protests “dishonor” Chicago and its “long and proud legacy as a leader of bold and vibrant peaceful protest.” 

She also urged those who are “peacefully” protesting to wear face coverings and maintain safe social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“COVID-19 is still very much alive in our city, and the highest risk of spread is in big crowds,” she added.