Residents Assess Damage in Aftermath of Looting on South Side, Loop

It was eerily quiet Monday evening in the Loop. 

Most of the bridges over the Chicago River remained lifted to restrict access to the area. Along State Street, the windows of Macy’s — which saw heavy looting Saturday night — and other familiar retail stores were boarded up.

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Protests bubbled up across the city Monday over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with his murder. 

A peaceful demonstration of about 100 people outside of City Hall turned into a march that headed north along LaSalle Street.

Another peaceful march took place on the North Side, as demonstrators made their way through the neighborhoods of Lakeview and Uptown. Earlier in the day, a tense situation unfolded on 71st Street in South Shore as police stared down angry protesters.

Monday also brought more mass looting to some South Side neighborhoods. 

Looters emptied out a Jewel grocery store at 75th and Stony Island in the city’s Grand Crossing neighborhood as volunteers worked to clean the site of broken glass. Store managers stood by and asked looters to be peaceful — the damage had already been done.

Some onlookers were stunned by what they saw.

“I do understand the anger, however I don’t think this is the answer to solve anything right now,” said Cornelius Parks, pastor at the First Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. “Those in there shopping, trying to get things off the shelves, it’s ridiculous. It’s just ridiculous.”

In nearby South Shore, crews worked to board up the 3 Smokin Sisters Tobacco Shop.

Owner Renee White said the store was nearly wiped clean by looters, but she was able to remove some of her inventory as she boarded up windows. She hopes to remain partially open.

It’s hard enough to be a small businesses owner in the neighborhood to begin with, she said.

“My thoughts last night were, ‘You know what, I don’t want to do it anymore,’” White said. “But due to the overwhelming support and help to clean things up, I’m second guessing that.” 

Across the street, South Shore residents mobilized to clean up other stores along 71st Street that were damaged over the weekend.

A local Fresh Market, which had displaced a food desert in the neighborhood years ago, was not hit, but is being guarded and is not open for business.

Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th Ward, says the looting is accomplishing the opposite of what she and other community activists have fought for for years.

“We say we want businesses in our neighborhoods like in other neighborhoods, and then we destroy them,” Hairston said. “That’s not right, that’s not the way to get your voice heard. Think of who you’re hurting. We fought for six years to get a grocery store. And now we can’t go to it.”

Earlier Monday, the mayor and police superintendent defended the deployment of police across the city, saying they rejected claims the police guarded downtown while the neighborhoods burned.  

But that view isn’t shared by all aldermen.

Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th Ward, lamented the weekend’s staggeringly high crime statistics: 27 homicides, 92 shooting victims from Friday night to Sunday night.

Beale has called for 3,000 National Guardsmen to be deployed to keep peace in the neighborhoods, even as Gov. J.B. Pritzker has ordered 250 more Monday to be deployed across the state; he send 375 to Chicago on Sunday.

“They’re trying to protect downtown at the expense of the communities, while we’re fighting for resources,” Beale said. “There was nothing in place for the South Side, West Side or North Side, so that’s why you see chaos happening right now.”

Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz

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