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Mayor calls Chicago looting ‘a planned attack’

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) says that the looting and violence that hit the city’s downtown late Sunday and early Monday following a police shooting were not the unplanned actions of angry protesters but rather an organized assault.

“When people showed up on Michigan Avenue in the downtown area with U-Haul trucks and cargo vans, and sophisticated equipment used to cut metal, and the methods that were used, and how quickly it got spun up … that wasn’t any spontaneous reaction,” Lightfoot told Time magazine in an interview published Wednesday.

She added: “To be sure, there are people that did join in that were motivated by lots of different reasons, and certainly were motivated by social media posts encouraging people to come downtown. But the core of what happened — that’s organized criminal activity … It was a planned attack.”

Tensions flared in the Windy City on Sunday evening after 20-year-old Latrell Allen, who is Black, was shot by Chicago police.

According to the department, officers responded to reports of a man with a gun in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. When officers approached Allen, he allegedly took off running.

Police say that as they gave pursuit, Allen fired at them. Returning the fire, officers hit Allen in the shoulder, according to police Superintendent David Brown.

Allen is reportedly still in the hospital, but is expected to recover. He has been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of possession of a concealed weapon. His bond was raised to $1 million on Monday.

However, accurate details of what happened immediately after police shot Allen were scarce, causing misinformation to rapidly gain traction.

Rumors that Allen was a 15-year-old boy who had been shot 15 times and killed quickly became widespread.

Chicago police didn’t offer clarifying details on the case until Monday morning.

Adding further to the confusion, Latricsa Allen, Latrell Allen’s mother, told The Chicago Tribune that her son told her in the hospital that he didn’t have a gun on him, and Chicagoans who witnessed the shooting have said that Latrell Allen attempted to give himself up before being shot.

An investigation of the case by the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability found that the officers involved in the shooting weren’t wearing body cams, meaning that there may be no video evidence to corroborate either side’s allegations.

Following the fast-moving and often inaccurate reports on Sunday, Magnificent Mile and other Chicago shopping districts sustained heavy damages and looting. Time reports that between midnight and 3 a.m., the 911 switchboard in the city received more than 1,800 calls, when the average for that period would have been in the teens.

Lightfoot told Time that the looters knew the times when police staffing would be low and chose “the moments where they feel like they have the best opportunity to make a move.”

In response on Monday, Lightfoot shifted an additional 400 officers downtown. Expressway exits leading to downtown were closed and almost every bridge in the area was raised to seal off access.

Activists have criticized Lightfoot’s handling of the situation.

“The Mayor cannot expect people to play by her rules as she refuses to treat them with basic dignity,” a Black Lives Matter Chicago statement said. “These protests can only end when the safety and wellbeing of our communities is finally prioritized.”

It has been a grim summer in U.S.’s third largest city. In July, 573 Chicagoans were shot, 58 of them juveniles. As of the end of last month, Chicago has recorded at least 430 homicides for the year, a 51 percent increase from the same time in 2019.

And this isn’t the first time this year that protesters and police have squared off in Chicago’s downtown. Large demonstrations occurred in the city in response to the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd at the end of May. Shops on the Magnificent Mile received substantial damage then as well.

President Trump has repeatedly criticized Democratic mayors’ handling of protests and unrest in multiple cities, including Chicago, threatening to deploy federal forces.

Tags Chicago Chicago Police Department Chicago Tribune Donald Trump George Floyd Illinois Lori Lightfoot police brutality policing in the U.S. Time

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