Chicago businesses and property management companies are warning the city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, that if Chicago does not take greater measures to curb crime and civil unrest, they may be forced to leave.
Rioters and looters caused an estimated $60 million in damages Sunday night after a social media post went viral accusing the Chicago Police Department of shooting an unarmed 15-year-old boy in Englewood, a mostly black neighborhood on the city’s south side. The post instructed would-be “protesters” to grab tools and prepare to loot downtown businesses.
The post turned out to be wildly inaccurate; Chicago police say they were involved in a shootout with a 20-year-old armed male who threatened neighbors and is now being held without bond on attempted murder charges.
Sunday night’s unrest, though, was the second time the city has seen widespread rioting and looting, and business owners say they’re done with city officials who seem to be overwhelmed by how to handle increasing crime.
“I’m almost ready to move to find a much quieter location in a less violent city,” one jewelry store owner, who found himself cleaning up his ransacked store for the second time in less than three months Monday morning, told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s basically a lawless land.”
Others are demanding that the city spend more money to keep tourist areas safe.
“Kimberly Bares, president, and chief executive of the Magnificent Mile Association, said her 650 members, including large retailers and hotels, are looking for a stronger full-time police presence in the area as well as investments in underserved neighborhoods to address longstanding issues of inequality,” the WSJ noted.
Smaller businesses told the WSJ, though, that they don’t believe an increased police presence will do much to deter looters, particularly given that the Chicago Police Department itself is under siege from protesters, including Chicago’s branch of Black Lives Matter, which defended looting as a form of “reparations” in twin rallies Monday and Tuesday.
“Police used to be able to stop trouble before it started,” a comic book shop owner told the outlet. “Now, they can’t do that. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
At least one Chicago-based property management company has issued a direct threat to city officials, according to Chicago’s CBS affiliate.
“The president of a Chicago-based property management company issued a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday – saying residents and building staff do not feel safe amid civil unrest, looting, and crime in the city, and blamed the city for a lack of support,” CBS 2 Chicago reported.
The company’s president, Stephen Levy, “represents more than 100 local condominium associations, more than 22,000 homeowners, and about 38,000 residents.”
“The homeowners we represent do not feel safe. From Hyde Park to the Gold Coast to Edgewater, residents across the city are adjusting their daily routines out of fear. They’re avoiding neighborhood walks after 6:00 p.m. At night, they don’t stand too close to their windows or dare to enjoy their outdoor balconies or terraces. Their children, who will likely be homebound for the remainder of the year, are forced to play indoors because local parks and playgrounds have been inhabited with litter, vandalism, and crime,” Levy wrote in his missive. “This is not a way to live, and I can’t fault homeowners when they tell me they’re considering leaving Chicago.”
He also noted that many of his employees were forced to navigate looted streets just to come to work.
The company isn’t asking for much, Levy says, just for Chicago officials to do their jobs.
“We need to you to fulfill your duty of ensuring the well-being of all Chicago residents,” he said. “Without an immediate change, I’m concerned that homeowners will flee, properties will stand vacant, business will fail, and the Chicago we both know will be a shell of what it once was and what it could be.”
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