After a police officer shot and wounded a 20-year-old man in Englewood, Chicago police officials say social media posts led to widespread, coordinated looting across the city.
“It’s something that’s affecting the whole city, speaking in terms of the looting that took place,” said Michael Tidmore, restorative justice coordinator at Teamwork Englewood.
Joseph Williams, the president and founder of Mr. Dad’s Father’s Club, was at the site of the Englewood shooting shortly after it happened. He said the situation was intense and emotions were high.
“I witnessed the police be agitators in many of the situations,” Williams said. “I witnessed them beat people up and put them in the police car and drive off. I witnessed them chase families and children down the block and be agitators toward the situation instead of protecting the crime scene as they said they were out there to do.”
Ald. Ray Lopez, whose 15th Ward includes part of West Englewood, said the shooting and the looting were two separate incidences, the latter caused by outside agitators.
“There’s an organized group trying to co-opt, as we’ve seen them co-opt Black Lives Matter, as we’ve seen them try to co-opt the murder of George Floyd,” Lopez said. “People are trying to use the anger and pain that’s in the Black community in particular, but the broader Chicago as a whole to spread their message of anarchy and destruction.”
He said if the police and engagement team had answered questions from residents, a lot of the tension would have been alleviated.
Ald. Chris Taliaferro, whose 29th Ward includes parts of Austin, said the Chicago Police Department’s response was satisfactory, given the situation.
“I think the response, given the nature of the time frame, was a good response, it was an excellent response in fact,” Taliaferro said. “You’re looking at looting that stretched all the way from North Avenue to the South Loop and 500 officers were overwhelmed, especially with the dispersement of the looting.”
Lopez said the city needs to identify who was behind the looting.
“As we see more and more agitators trying to capitalize on the pain and anxieties of our communities it would be of our best interest to use every available resource, including the federal government, to get some answers so that we can finally bring these individuals, these agitators to justice,” Lopez said.