Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot had strong words for the hundreds of rioters and looters that took to the streets of Chicago Sunday night, causing major damage to some of the city’s tourist areas and stealing thousands of dollars in merchandise from high-end shops and boutiques located in the city’s “Magnificent Mile” shopping district.
Lightfoot is now asking for President Donald Trump to send additional resources to federal agents assisting the Chicago Police Department in controlling the city’s spike in violence — but only if those resources are targeted towards “federally licensed gun dealers.”
“We are waking up in shock this morning,” Lightfoot said at a joint press conference with the city’s police superintendent, David Brown. “What happened in our city last night and this morning of course is deeply painful for every Chicagoan.”
The looting, Lightfoot said, was “brazen and extensive criminal destruction.”
She then took aim at claims the looting was in response to an officer-involved shooting on the city’s South Side, calling the prevailing narrative about the incident false, and lashing out at previous claims, made by individuals like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) that property violence in cities like Chicago is motivated by poverty.
“This is not legitimate 1st Amendment-protected speech. These were not poor people engaging in petty theft to feed themselves and their families,” Lightfoot said. “This was straight up-felony, criminal conduct.”
Lightfoot and Brown then relayed the facts about the shooting that precipitated the night of violence. Misinformation, the pair said, was pervasive, and many “protesters” believed that the Chicago Police Department had shot an unarmed 15-year-old boy as he was running down an alleyway in the city’s Englewood neighborhood.
Not so, the pair noted.
“Number one, the individual who fired on police yesterday and was taken into custody was a 20-year-old man — he was not a juvenile and he was not unarmed. Officers responded because they received a 911 call about a man with a gun with a very specific description,” Lightfoot said. “A foot chase ensued, the individual fled. He turned around, he fired upon the police, the police returned fire. He was hit in the shoulder and is recovering from the injuries. But I want to be clear this was not an unarmed individual as propagated on social media.”
At least one officer was injured in the exchange of gunfire. The offender’s weapon was recovered by police.
“This was an act of violence against our police officers and against our city,” Brown said, adding that more than 100 people had been arrested for criminal behavior Sunday evening.
Lightfoot did note that she would not call in National Guard troops to help secure the city and prevent rioting. She did, however, suggest that President Donald Trump could provide greater assistance to the city by providing more resources to agents of the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms bureau assisting Chicago police violence control efforts, but only if those resources are aimed at conducting background checks on federally licensed gun dealers.
“Lightfoot urges Trump to provide adequate resources to ATF and get behind federally licensed gun dealers. ‘Don’t rattle the sabre. Don’t make threats,'” one local Chicago reporter noted on Twitter.
Lightfoot urges Trump to provide adequate resources to ATF and get behind federally licensed gun dealers. "Don't rattle the sabre. Don't make threats."
— Fran Spielman (@fspielman) August 10, 2020
Lightfoot has long insisted that Chicago’s gun violence problems stem from an unregulated influx of weapons from states with more lenient gun laws, like Indiana. Federal agents in Chicago are, in fact, targeting gun trafficking operations, but Sunday’s looting was likely a coordinated criminal effort unrelated to gun violence.
Chicago anti-violence activist, Fr. Michael Pfleger, told WBEZ Monday that it’s clear Sunday’s riots were the result of extensive social media communication: “This was obviously very orchestrated.”