The Chicago Police Department is preparing for a potential wave of weekend protests in the wake of civil unrest north of the Illinois border, sparked by the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake.
“We are hoping for peaceful protests, but we are preparing if agitators come in,” Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said at a Friday news conference, referring to “embedded agitators” police claim infiltrated city protests last month in order to attack officers.
The department’s new Critical Incident Response team, consisting of about 200 officers, will be deployed downtown. “Arrest teams” outfitted with helmets and shields will enter crowds to arrest alleged “agitators,” Brown said.
The department also conducted its “first of many tabletop exercises” on Thursday night with an emergency safety drill downtown, following two waves of looting in the Loop.
“We will take swift enforcement action” against people “attacking or destroying persons and property,” said Brown.
Amid three months of Chicago protests, demonstrators have criticized “random” violence from police and “kettling” techniques that prevent marching.
Neighborhoods outside the downtown area are being monitored by the department’s new 500-officer Community Safety team.