Chicago police have released a social media post they say may have encouraged hundreds of individuals to descend on the city’s “Magnificent Mile” shopping district to loot and riot.
The post purports to outline a response to a “police-involved shooting” on the city’s south side. Initially, a fabricated story about an unarmed black teenager, shot dead as he was fleeing from police in the city’s Englewood neighborhood, circulated on Twitter and other social media platforms. Although the story turned out to be false — police were instead called to the scene to confront an armed man who engaged them in an exchange of gunfire — the narrative quickly went viral, shared by many of the city’s anti-racism and anti-police brutality activists.
The subsequent social media post, which cops say may have led to an all-out crime spree Sunday night through Monday morning, tells those outraged by the story to prepare for violence.
“The ABC7 I-Team obtained a social media post that Chicago police detectives said directed looters to converge on Gold Coast stores starting at 12 a.m. Monday. The post points looters away from the South, West and East sides, and instead tells them to target downtown and the North Side. Looters are encouraged to bring tools, ski masks, and gloves,” Chicago’s ABC affiliate reported Tuesday.
“Attention, attention, looting start (sic) at 12 am,” the post reads. “We will not be f***ing up the south side, east side, or west side. Downtown area and up north area only. Bring ya tools, ski mask, gloves.”
Several commentators, including prominent Chicago anti-violence activist Fr. Michael Pfleger, have suggested that Sunday night’s riots were coordinated and are evidence of widespread communication between would-be looters.
Chicago police superintendent David Brown, though, would not comment on any ongoing investigation into whether the looting was coordinated, saying only, at a press conference Monday, that the incidents were not related to any organized demonstration.
“This was not an organized protest. Rather, this was an incident of pure criminality,” Brown told reporters, adding that he believes the looters were encouraged by a lack of prosecutions following similar riots and looting in late May. “Criminals took to the streets with the confidence that there would be no consequences for their actions.”
The damage from Sunday night’s looting is extensive. Fox News claims the incidents “caused at least $60 million in property damage.” Chicago’s ABC affiliate notes that looters targeted a wide area on the city’s north side, moving west from the “Magnificent Mile” to “high-end clothing, jewelry and watch boutiques on the adjoining retail corridors.”
As The Daily Wire reported earlier Tuesday, a Chicago branch of the Black Lives Matter movement defended the “protesters” in a rally outside a south side police precinct Monday night, claiming that looters were simply revolting against a system of oppression and that looting is a form of “reparations.”