Lisa Collins watched the surveillance video of a handful of strangers rampaging through her downtown Naperville jewelry store Monday night, overturning tables, breaking things — and she found it “heartbreaking.”
“They were looking to make a statement, do some damage and that’s what they did,” Collins said Tuesday morning as she returned to clean up after a night of destruction.
Collins’ store, Lauren Rae, had just reopened May 28 after the easing of statewide pandemic restrictions.
Naperville was one of many suburban communities hit by vandalism and looting in the unrest triggered by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It was the same day Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced he was sending the Illinois National Guard into the suburbs to help out.
A 25-year-old man was being held in the DuPage County jail on $1 million bail Tuesday after he allegedly approached the village of Lombard municipal campus a day earlier holding a lighter in one hand and a Molotov cocktail in the other, according to the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office. Christian Frazee, a Lombard resident, is charged with attempted terrorism and possession of an incendiary device.
Frazee was also carrying a “butane torch lighter and seven additional lighters,” the prosecutor’s office said.
“The arrest of Mr. Frazee sends the message that in DuPage County we will not tolerate any attempt to utilize the legitimate protests currently occurring as a cover to commit any type of criminal behavior,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said. “Fortunately, the alert and quick actions of the Lombard Police Department stopped the potential loss of property and possible loss of human life. Make no mistake, through the cooperative efforts of all our law enforcement agencies, anyone who attempts to conduct themselves in such a manner will be caught, arrested and prosecuted to the absolute fullest extent of the law.”
In Aurora, Illinois’ second-largest city, Monday night was relatively quiet, compared with the night before when rioters smashed store windows downtown and set three police vehicles on fire. A police officer was slightly injured after being hit by a brick, said Paris Lewbel, a police spokesman. On Monday, a “small group” of protesters congregated downtown without causing any major problems, Lewbel said. Police were investigating a break-in and theft at a store near the Fox Valley Mall, Lewbel said.
In Naperville, scores of shop fronts had their windows smashed during a demonstration that turned violent Monday night. It followed peaceful demonstrations Saturday and Sunday, said Linda LaCloche, a city of Naperville spokeswoman.
Lisa Collins said it had crossed her mind to board up her store in anticipation of the downtown demonstrations, but she and her husband, Ray, considered the possibility of looting slight. On Tuesday, after taking in the damage and looking at the surveillance video, she said: “It was heartbreaking. I’m a nice person.”
But she was also buoyed by the army of people who showed up to clear away the debris.
“A crowd of about 600 people gathered at 6 a.m. in our downtown, and they had it cleaned up about 7:15 a.m. — on the outside,” LaCloche said.
“Oh my goodness, it was really beautiful to see how people were helping — people I didn’t know from a long way away to help sweep, to help with whatever,” Collins said.
And in Cicero, at least 100 people took to the streets to clean up debris after a night of violent clashes between police, residents and potential looters.
They walked picked up trash, boarded up windows and were welcomed with cheers from residents. Cicero provided rakes, shovels and trash bags. Afterward, Paisans Pizzeria and Bar donated pizza for the volunteers.
Sandip Patel, owner of El Patron Liquor Store in Cicero, was surprised by the help.
On Monday, Patel had watched 30 to 40 people storm his store, taking everything they could grab before Cicero police arrived about three minutes later.
About an hour later, with police still in the store, a man fell through the false ceiling. Then another. And another. In all, about seven people fell from the store ceiling that has no second floor, Patel said.
They couldn’t escape when police arrived because “they thought we had a back door but we don’t,” Patel said. Instead, they climbed into the area above the false ceiling.
Lost merchandise and store damage will cost Patel at least $40,000, he said.
“Too much hatred out here,” Patel said. The store was closed Tuesday but he hopes to reopen in the next couple of days.
Esai Ariza, a 19-year Cicero resident, was happy to clean up after a night of looting.
“We have to make sure our community is clean and safe for everybody,” Ariza said. “I think the politicians have to put their agenda to the side, fix the judicial system and hold bad cops accountable.”
Contributing: Manny Ramos