Lightfoot condemns vigilantism after group wielding makeshift weapons takes to the streets of Bridgeport: ‘It was literally causing fear’

On Thursday, Lightfoot told reporters that it’s “absolutely not appropriate for people to take up arms, bats, pipes, whatever in patrolling neighborhoods.”

SHARE Lightfoot condemns vigilantism after group wielding makeshift weapons takes to the streets of Bridgeport: ‘It was literally causing fear’
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A group of men, some holding weapons, congregate at the corner of 31st Street and Princeton Avenue on Wednesday night.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday denounced vigilantism after a group of men armed with baseball bats, pipes and other weapons seemingly patrolled Bridgeport a night earlier.

Reports of the vigilante posse, made up mostly of white men, come amid the civil unrest that has gripped the city after chaos ensued following Saturday’s downtown protest over the officer-involved killing of George Floyd. As the city continues to experience a wave of looting and vandalism, some residents have banded together and taken to the streets to protect their neighborhoods.

On Thursday, Lightfoot told reporters that it’s “absolutely not appropriate for people to take up arms, bats, pipes, whatever in patrolling neighborhoods.”

“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,” said Lightfoot, encouraging residents to call 911 for help.

“I absolutely support neighbors being vigilant as to what’s going on on their streets and in their blocks,” she added. “But taking up arms, that leads to chaos, and we’re not supporting vigilantism in the city of Chicago under any circumstances.”

Despite the mayor’s assurances, some Bridgeport residents reported that police officers on the scene failed to intervene and even chatted with some members of the group of dozens, many of whom were seen wielding makeshift weapons like bike locks and table legs and allegedly menacing people in the area. The group began to congregate as a protest was being held at the Chicago Police Department’s headquarters at 3510 S. Michigan Ave.

Megan Merrill, a volunteer for Greater Bridgeport Mutual Aid who lives in the neighborhood, said she saw someone in the group attempt to stick something in the bicycle wheel of an Asian man who was passing the group at 31st Street and Princeton Avenue. Merrill said the presence of a group of white men appearing to target a minority was “absolutely terrifying,” though she acknowledged that she’s well aware of Bridgeport’s history of racially charged violence.

“It wasn’t abstract,” said Merrill. “It was literally causing fear.”

“The whole reason that the cops are supposedly present and cracking down is to prevent violence and to prevent property damage,” she added. “And they witnessed one of the guys trying to attack a person of color ... on a bicycle and they did nothing.”

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