Protesters, police clash in South Shore as activists plead for peace

About 100 people argued 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.

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Chicago police officers clash with hundreds of protesters outside a store that had been looted near East 71st Street and South Chappel Avenue in South Shore, Monday, June 1, 2020. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Chicago Police officers clashed with protesters outside a store looted near East 71st Street and South Chappel Avenue in South Shore.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Tensions were high in the South Shore neighborhood 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 shoe store near East 71st Street and South Chappel Avenue.

About 100 people 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 to offer his support and thanks to the officers.

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

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown bumps elbows with Johnnetta Philpotts on June 1, 2020 after officers clashed with protesters outside a store that was looted near East 71st Street and South Chappel Avenue.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown elbow bumps with Johnnetta Philpotts, who got emotional when officers clashed with protesters outside a store looted near East 71st Street and South Chappel Avenue.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times

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

Afterward, 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 a half-dozen women and teen girls were picking up debris outside the Mariano’s grocery store at 38th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive after doing the same at a Jewel a few blocks north.

The supermarkets 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. ... Y’all set us so far back. Y’all set us all the way back.”

Marquita Williams, center, 26, of Bronzeville, cleans litter outside a Mariano’s at 3857 S. Martin Luther King Dr. after the grocery store was looted, Monday morning, June 1, 2020.

Marquita Williams, center, 26, of Bronzeville, cleans litter outside a Mariano’s at 3857 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on Monday after the grocery store was looted.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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