Chicago mayor says vigilantism won't be accepted after men spotted patrolling streets with bats

Chicago mayor says vigilantism won't be accepted after men spotted patrolling streets with bats

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) this week condemned vigilantism after groups of predominantly white men were seen patrolling the streets with bats amid ongoing protests against racism and police brutality.

“It is absolutely not appropriate for people to take up arms, bats, pipes, whatever in patrolling neighborhoods,” Lightfoot said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“We’ve seen that end with tragic results across the country and we’re not about to allow that practice to happen here in Chicago. If there’s an issue, call 911,” Lightfoot said. “I absolutely support neighbors being vigilant as to what’s going on on the streets and in their blocks but taking up arms, that leads to chaos and we’re not supporting vigilantism in the city of Chicago under any circumstances.”

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The groups of men were seen in Bridgeport, a diversifying neighborhood that previously served as an Irish American power base for the Daley political family, the outlet noted.

Black Lives Matter protests broke out in Chicago and nearly every other major U.S. city following the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis last week. Some protests turned violent, and businesses were looted and damaged.

On Wednesday, the Tribune reported that small groups of men gathered on street corners. Some were armed with bats, and one man was even spotted wearing an “All Lives Matter” shirt.

A video of the alleged vigilantes began circulating on social media.

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Several people told the outlet Block Club Chicago that they were harassed and intimidated by men with weapons and were not assisted by police. 

Tanya Rosin told the outlet that she was driving home from a peaceful protest with a “Black Lives Matter” sign on her car when she was cut off and forced to pull over by a BMW with lights on the top.

“Two of them got out and blocked our path forward with their bodies. One stood only a few inches away from the front of my car while screaming at us to turn around and leave and the other one stood a couple of yards away from the driver side of the car,” Rosin said. 

“I told them we were just trying to get home and they screamed at me that I didn’t live here. Their actions made it very difficult to turn around as there were vehicles behind us,” she added.

She said she attempted to drive away, but a pickup truck blocked her path again before they were finally able to get home safely.

“As we we turned around we saw a police squad a few cars behind where we had been,” Rosin said. “They did nothing to intervene.”

Chicago police spokeswoman Kellie Bartoli told Block Club Chicago that there were no reported attacks and that the department did not condone any types of groups engaging in violence.

“There is no truth to the rumors that the Department is coordinating with gang members, who terrorize their neighborhoods daily, in an effort to somehow safeguard communities,” the statement read. “Gang members need to put their guns down. We do not and will never tolerate attacks against anyone.”