Chicago protests of George Floyd death live blog: June 1, 2020

Here’s what happening today after a weekend of protests, as well as vandalism and looting in Chicago following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

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Ald. Howard Brookins, Jr. talks to the Sun-Times editorial board about running for reelection in Chicago’s 21st Ward on Jan. 27, 2015. | Peter Holderness / Sun-Times

Ald. Howard Brookins, Jr. talks to the Sun-Times editorial board about running for reelection in Chicago’s 21st Ward on Jan. 27, 2015.

9:01 p.m. Chicago police officers’ radios crackled with rogue messages during weekend of chaos

Hackers interrupted Chicago’s police radio system over the weekend with everything from anti-cop music to pro-police slogans as dispatchers struggled to answer calls during the looting and gun violence.

“It’s a very dangerous thing that they’re doing,” said Dan Casey, deputy director of public safety information technology in the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Casey said recordings of the rogue transmissions are being provided to local and federal authorities, who will investigate.

“Jamming,” as it’s called, is illegal and can carry heavy prison time. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an eight-year prison sentence for a man who jammed police radio frequencies in Madison, Wisconsin.

More than 130,000 people have viewed a YouTube video posted Sunday in which two men are heard laughing as what they think is Serbian music playing over a scanner on a Chicago police frequency as an officer tries to get help transporting prisoners.

Reporter Frank Main has the full story.

8:34 p.m. Heartbroken South Side alderman doesn’t understand looting – or police response: ‘I think we should have had a better plan’

It took Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. the better part of two terms to convince Walmart to locate a store in his 21st Ward, but it took looters only a couple of hours to destroy it.

On Monday, an extremely frustrated Brookins lamented the extensive damage to businesses in his South Side ward and questioned why police had not done more to prevent it.

Brookins estimated 95% of stores that sell merchandise in the ward were hit by looters over the weekend.

Jewel, Home Depot, Marshalls, Dollar Tree, Dollar Store, Walgreen’s and TCF Bank were among those suffering extensive losses, to name just a few.

The looting was a heartbreaking setback to Brookins and other African-American aldermen, who know better than anyone how difficult it has been to attract whatever investment they’ve seen over the past two decades in their South and West side neighborhoods and how long it might take to replace it — if ever.

Read Mark Brown’s full column here.

8:05 p.m. CTA service suspended until Tuesday morning ‘at request of public safety officials’

All CTA train and bus service will be suspended Monday night starting at 9:30 p.m. and won’t resume until 6 p.m. Tuesday morning.

7:27 p.m. Black Lives Matter claims police brutality against peaceful protesters

Black Lives Matter on Monday demanded an end to Chicago Police “attacks” on people protesting the death of George Floyd.

The group also called for the release of any protesters who’d been arrested, citing one prominent activist and poet, Malcolm London, by name.

But at a news conference Monday morning, CPD Supt. David Brown and Mayor Lori Lightfoot had insisted abuse by officers will not be allowed.

“We don’t tolerate police misconduct — ever. Period. I think I’ve been very clear on that throughout the course of my career. We don’t tolerate it,” said Lightfoot, a former Police Board president who served during the Daley administration as head of the Chicago Police Department Office of Professional Standards.

“If people believe that police have engaged in misconduct, they need to call 311 and file a complaint. And those complaints will be investigated vigorously. This is not a time when we’re bending the rules around police reform and accountability.”

Watch the video and read the full story from reporters Fran Spielman and Lizzie Schiffman Tufano.

6:55 p.m. CPS to resume food distribution program after safety concerns led to day-long suspension

Chicago Public Schools plans to resume meal distribution Tuesday after a day-long suspension Monday because of safety concerns surrounding looting and protests around the city.

The district, the nation’s third largest, has given out more than 12.5 million meals since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through a food program that has been widely praised by parents who rely on schools as a primary food source. Of CPS’ 355,000 students, 271,000 come from low-income families and about 17,000 are homeless.

“We know our meal sites serve as a critical community resource and we are ready to resume this essential service for our families tomorrow following an assessment of ongoing activities,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said in a news release. Chicago police will help with security in the areas around school pick-up sites, she said.

Reporter Nader Issa has the full story.

6:27 p.m. Trump poised to mobilize military: ‘These are acts of domestic terror’

Calling protests across the U.S. “acts of domestic terror,” President Donald Trump on Monday said he will mobilize the U.S. military and other federal assets to end “the destruction and arson.”

“I am taking immediate presidential action to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America by mobilizing all available federal resources civilian and military to stop the rioting and looting to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law abiding Americans including your second amendment rights.”

Trump spoke as cities across the U.S. was grappling with looters and violence drowning out the voices of peaceful protesters in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“The spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity, and a crime against God. America needs creation not destruction. Cooperation not contempt, security, not anarchy. Healing not hatred.”

Read the full story from Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet here.

6:06 p.m. Pritzker declares disaster in nine counties, mobilizes more National Guard troops, calls ‘for calm and peace in our streets’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday declared Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Will and four downstate counties disaster areas to allow him to mobilize Illinois National Guard troops and other state resources needed for areas wracked by looting and vandalism that recalled the tumultuous days of the 1960s.

“We live in some extraordinary and difficult moments now. During my lifetime, I have not seen this. I was very young in 1968,” Pritzker said at a Monday afternoon news conference.

“This has something to do about leadership in the nation. When you don’t have national leaders who are bringing down the temperature in situations like this, it tends to fan the flames,” he said.

“We will meet the challenge. We have the capability to meet the challenge. The people of Illinois have the capability. And again, I would ask people to step up and call for calm and peace in our streets.”

Pritzker praised the performance of 375 members of the Illinois National Guard who joined local law enforcement in Chicago to assist with street closures on Sunday and Monday.

Read the full story here.

5:46 p.m. Profane exchange: Lightfoot, chief City Council critic tussle over police tactics during looting

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and one of her most outspoken City Council critics got into a profane exchange on Sunday during the second of two conference calls held to update aldermen on the city’s failed efforts to contain looting and violence in Chicago neighborhoods.

During the first call on Sunday morning, Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) said he asked Lightfoot directly what her plan was to protect the neighborhoods after sealing off a downtown area devastated by looting, vandalism and arsons on Saturday night.

According to Lopez, the mayor responded she had a plan for every neighborhood.

“I said, ‘I heard on the scanners that we have hundreds of people, caravans, driving in from Indiana and other places to come and terrorize our city,’” Lopez said.

“She rebuffed that. Disregarded me again. She said, ‘I’m dealing with issues. That’s an unsubstantiated rumor. You can chase that if you want, Ray.’”

Read the full story here.

5:13 p.m. Chicago pot shop ‘destroyed’ by looters after ‘everything of value taken’; 2 others hit

Three Chicago pot shops were targeted in the ongoing wave of destruction and theft that has spread across the city after a downtown protest over the officer-involved killing of George Floyd devolved into chaos on Saturday.

On Sunday afternoon, 40-50 looters broke into Mission, 8554 S. Commercial in South Chicago, and made off with the store’s stash of highly regulated pot products.

Kris Krane, Mission’s president, said the shop’s management was able to shut down the dispensary as stores in the area were being ransacked and get out safely, minutes before it was targeted. He said in a Facebook post that the store was “was overrun by 40 to 50 men and women, some armed, and ransacked. Everything of value was taken and the store was mostly destroyed.”

Still, he vowed to rebuild.

“A store can be rebuilt and inventory can be replaced but these human lives cannot,” said Krane. “The staff and customers making it out safe turned what could have been a tragedy into a sad inconvenience.”

“We will rebuild and we will be back stronger as soon as we can,” he added.

Read the full story here.

3:12 p.m. Protestors, police clash in South Shore as activists plead for peace

Tensions were high in South Shore Monday afternoon as more than 100 people confronted a large group of Chicago Police officers outside a store that had been looted over the weekend.

Just before 1 p.m., several dozen officers stood guarding a clothing and shoes store near East 71st Street and South Chappel Avenue in South Shore.

About 100 people soon began arguing with police, some throwing bottles and rocks and starting shoving matches, as community activists William Calloway and Jedidiah Brown pleaded for peace between civilians and police. Across the street, more police officers guarded the parking lot to the Local Market, one of the few grocery stores in the area.

At least two people were taken into custody, one of whom took a swing at an officer.

Soon after, CPD Supt. David Brown arrived at the scene to offer his support and thanks to the officers.


Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

While the physical confrontations were brief, a handful of people continued to scream at police, insisting that the officers were the ones who escalated the situation.

Johnnetta Philpotts lives in South Shore and played the role of peacemaker between the police and citizens.

As one man continued to scream profanity at an officer, Philpotts confronted him, ordering him to walk away, to which the man replied, “Yes, ma’am.”

Afterwards, Philpotts softly wept when asked what was going through her mind in that moment.

“A lot of things were on my mind because I know that there has been a lot of injustice. There’s been a lot of craziness and nobody has the right to take anybody’s life,” Philpotts said. “But looting and burning buildings and just destroying communities, that’s not the answer. I don’t care if the violence is happening from the police upon citizens, or from citizens upon citizens, it doesn’t matter what color to me.”

Earlier in the day in Bronzeville, about half a dozen women and teen girls were picking up debris outside the Mariano’s grocery store at 38th and King Drive after doing the same at a Jewel a few blocks north. The supermarkets — two of the few in the area — had been looted over the weekend.

“These are our two grocery stores,” said Evita Ali, who lives in Bronzeville. “It’s only two, but [looters] tore it up, so where are we gonna shop? Because we don’t know when they’re gonna open again. We have no idea. It’s hurtful and it’s painful because now we’ve got to go out of our own communities to go to the grocery store.”

Marquita Williams, also there to help clean up, said looters ransacked a nearby WIC food center and stole baby formula.

“They went as far as going in the WIC store,” said Williams, also of Bronzeville. “This is baby formula. They took all these babies’ formulas. These babies can’t even eat. What the hell is we finna do? Y’all set us so far back. Y’all set us all the way back.”

Read the full story here.

2:50 p.m. Local businesses prepare for another night of protest


Michael and Miguel Lopez board up El Palmar restaurant on Monday.

Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Michael Lopez helps his father, Miguel Lopez, board up the Mexican restaurant the family has owned since 1991 near the corner of Irving Park and Sheridan roads. The buzz of electric drills could be heard all over the North Side on Monday as business owners worried about the possibility of looting. Michael Lopez said they decided to get to work after running into a young man passing out flyers for a protest later Monday.

“We’re hoping for a peaceful protest, but we’d rather be prepared,” Michael Lopez said. “We really hope things don’t get ugly.”

Signs posted on the windows of El Palmar restaurant read: “Latinos for Black Lives Matter” and “Please do not loot here.”

The business remains open for pickup and delivery. Michael Lopez estimates business is down about 70% from pre-pandemic days.

— Stefano Esposito

2:14 p.m. Facing food insecurity due to looting-related closures? Here’s a list of resources

Thousands of families will now have to look for another way to feed their kids after Chicago Public Schools suspended its meal distribution program “based on the evolving nature of activity across the city,” officials announced late Sunday night.

The district has given out more than 12.5 million meals since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through a food program that has been widely praised by parents who rely on schools as a primary food source.

Access to food may be further limited for may Chicagoans after a scattered police presence across the city left pockets open for looting all day without officers responding in many areas on the South, Southwest and West Sides.

Many businesses with damaged storefronts or lost inventory were closed Monday, including grocery stores.

The Chicago Food Depository posted on Twitter Monday that most of its partner food pantries were still open and operational. A searchable database of resources is available here.

City Bureau, a nonprofit civic media organization based on the South Side, has an extensive, searchable resource database that includes food sources.

Anyone without internet access can also text 312-436-2280 to ask about resources in their area.

At the link below, you can click through to a list of resources compiled by the Sun-Times for families in need of food.


1:50 p.m. Some 2,000 arrested over ‘chaotic’ weekend, and sheriff investigating who was behind orchestrated looting and vandalism

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Sheriff Tom Dart agreed Monday that a line divides the peaceful protesters who were out over the weekend and those who looted and vandalized stores and other businesses.

But they were less certain who was behind what Dart describes as an effort to “utilize… the peaceful protesters for their own criminal acts.”

“Whether you’re talking in the city of Chicago, suburban Cook County — we’re seeing it everywhere,” Dart said.

“There’s definitely organization [to the looting] but as far as the overarching organization, that’s being looked at,” the sheriff said.

Preckwinkle said she had “no idea whatsoever” who was behind it.

An estimated 2,000 people were arrested over the weekend, Dart said.

Read the full story from Rachel Hinton here.

11:39 a.m. In call with governors, President Trump urges arrests, saying they ‘have to dominate’ or look ‘like a bunch of jerks’

In a teleconference with the nation’s governors after a violent weekend of looting and arsons, President Trump on Monday urged governors to “dominate” by sending people to “jail for a long period of time” and said they’d look like “a bunch of jerks” if they didn’t heed his advice.

The words had Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker immediately telling the president on the call that he is “extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that’s been used” by him.

“It’s been inflammatory, and it’s not OK for that officer to choke George Floyd to death but we have to call for calm. We have to have police reform called for. We’ve called out our National Guard and our State Police but the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House is making it worse,” Pritzker said. “And I need to say that people are feeling real pain out there. And we’ve got to have national leadership in calling for calm and making sure that we’re addressing the concerns of the legitimate peaceful protestors. That will help us to bring order.”

Trump responded, “OK, well thank you very much, J.B. I don’t like your rhetoric very much either because I watched your response to coronavirus, and I don’t like your rhetoric either. I think you could have done a much better job, frankly.”

The president also said the country needs “law and order.”

Tina Sfondeles has the full story here.

10:56 a.m. Lightfoot: ‘We did not stand by and let the South and West sides burn’

Mayor Lori Lightfoot shot back at at two aldermen who say she didn’t have a plan to protect the city’s neighborhoods from devastating damage caused by looters Monday morning news conference.

“We did not stand by and let the South and West sides burn,” she said.

“There is no way — no way — that we would ever let any neighborhood” go unprotected in favor of any other, Lightfoot said.

“We are not going to leave our neighborhoods behind. That is not going to happen on my watch.”

Have businesses in your neighborhood been looted?
Do you own a business that was damaged over the weekend, or have evidence of vandalism or looting in your community? Email to share with our reporters.

The accusation that she had ignored pleas to protect the South and West sides was “deeply offensive to me as a black woman,” Lightfoot said.

The strategy instead “was to add resources” in those areas, she said, but “the violence that we saw and the looting that we saw spread like a wildfire.”

Problems “were everywhere. They were everywhere.”

Police were trying to deal with calls coming in at a rate of up to 2,000 calls per half-hour.

From Friday through Sunday, “there were 10,000 calls about looting alone.” Total call volume over the weekend was 65,000 calls for service — about 50,000 calls more than normal.

Read the full story from Fran Spielman here.

10:13 a.m. Aldermen rip mayor after neighborhoods ransacked, plead for National Guard protection

Chicago needs 3,000 National Guardsmen — not 375 — to protect neighborhoods under siege from looters, a handful of aldermen said Monday.

Aldermen Brian Hopkins (2nd), Anthony Beale (9th) and Ray Lopez (15th) made the request, arguing that the deployment of 375 National Guard troops to seal off the perimeter of the downtown area had left South and West Side neighborhoods unprotected.

Lopez and Beale are Lightfoot’s most outspoken City Council critics.

During a Sunday morning Zoom conference calls between the mayor and Chicago aldermen, Lopez said he asked Lightfoot directly what her plan was to protect the neighborhoods after sealing off a downtown area devastated by looting, vandalism and arsons on Saturday night. According to Lopez, the mayor responded that she had a plan for every neighborhood.

By Sunday night, Lopez said neighborhoods were in chaos. His warnings about a “coordinated attempt to destabilize our city” turned out to be right. On a second Zoom conference call between the mayor and City Council, Lopez said several aldermen were “in tears” about the damage done to their communities.

“I asked her point-blank. I said, ‘I told you this was gonna happen in the morning. I warned you. What is our plan for the neighborhoods? How are we gonna stabilize the communities? We need a five-day plan. The assumption that this is all gonna go away because you’ve got a curfew is wrong. We need to stabilize the communities. I want an answer,’” Lopez recalled.

“When I was finished, she basically said, ‘Okay. Next’ and tried to move onto the next alderman without answering me. At which point, I interrupted and said, ‘No. I demand an answer. I want to know what your plan is.’ ... She said I was full of s - - t for saying that all she cared about was downtown and that she wasn’t prepared and that there’s nothing she could say intellectually that would make sense to me.’”

Lopez said he answered profanity with profanity.

“I told her, ‘F - - k you. You don’t know what’s going on. You need to come out from wherever you’re hiding and see what’s going on in the neighborhoods.’ I said, ‘You need to check your f----ing attitude. That’s not what this is about right now. … That just underscores and totally proves the fact that she had no plan for the neighborhoods.”

Read the full story here.

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