The unrest that followed a police-involved shooting Sunday in Englewood was a blow to many areas of the city that were still recovering from protests in late May and June following the death of George Floyd, and the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward, got a call around midnight and showed up in Streeterville in time to see hundreds of people flooding into the downtown area. He says it was such an “overwhelming show of force” that police quickly lost control, and they never regained it. Hopkins says if the Chicago Police Department had intelligence about possible looting, they should have acted more decisively.
“Why didn’t they raise the bridges? Why didn’t they have the patrol officers in place earlier? Why didn’t they move those resources around as the caravans were coming in from the south?” Hopkins asked. “They let them come downtown. There were a lot of tactical and strategic mistakes that were made. Once you lose control, it’s extraordinarily difficult to get it back.”
Large chains and luxury stores in several neighborhoods were hit. So too were smaller, locally owned businesses and restaurants. One of them was the steakhouse Gene & Georgetti, which suffered damage from a fire last year and unrest earlier this summer as well. Co-owner Michelle Durpetti says she and her husband used to joke with her parents that the restaurant, now 79 1/2 years old, would outlive all of them.
“Now we’re praying it makes it to 80. This is my grandfather’s legacy, in addition to it being Georgetti’s legacy. It’s something that I can’t talk about without getting emotional,” Durpetti said. “We’re a mom-and-pop operation. This is our sole livelihood. We are hanging off the edge of a cliff by our fingernails, and if it wasn’t the strength and resilience of our team and the loyalty of our customers we wouldn’t be here, plain and simple.”
Hopkins said if the city doesn’t address the unrest and prevent things from turning violent, Chicago could be forever changed for the worse.
“What we’ve seen right now in the year of COVID, when we have a pandemic crippling our economy and tourism is already dried up, to have this repeated on the heels of what just happened in May with the threat that it’s going to continue unless we come up with a plan to stop it, what will cease it from happening again?” he asked.