Chicago Activates Emergency Operations Center, Prepares for Inauguration-Related Violence

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Chicago officials announced Friday they will activate the city’s emergency operations center on Wednesday to coordinate the response of the local law enforcement agencies to potential violence or unrest related to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

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The city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications “along with the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and the city’s infrastructure departments are prepared to take protective action and will continue to monitor the situation daily,” according to a statement from city officials.

City officials are “not aware of any actionable activity being planned in Chicago. We anticipate the City of Chicago will remain peaceful,” according to the statement.

However, city officials are “prepared to mobilize assets to ensure the safety of residents, neighborhood commercial corridors and critical businesses, in the event of any incidents,” according to the statement.

Chicago and Cook County officials announced Monday that they would close City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., and the Cook County Building, 118 N. Clark St., to the public on Wednesday “as a purely precautionary measure.”

CPD officials did not immediately respond to a question from WTTW News about whether officers would have their scheduled days off canceled.

The city last activated the emergency operations center in the days before Halloween and the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The plan developed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the wake of unrest that swept the city during protests triggered by the May 25 death of George Floyd calls for the city to be prepared to deploy between 60 and 300 garbage trucks, salt spreaders, snow plows and water trucks to protect the city’s commercial districts in the event of unrest and violence.

Lightfoot could also block access to downtown by raising bridges, shutting down the CTA and ordering a curfew.

Federal officials have warned that extremists may be planning “armed protests” at all 50 state capitols to mark Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday in the wake of the insurrection on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday activated 250 members of the Illinois National Guard in response to those threats.

“Following the violent siege at our nation’s capitol and reports from federal law enforcement on threats to state capitals, I am bringing all resources to bear to protect our residents and our democratic process,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Our exemplary members of the Illinois National Guard will be working closely with our State Police as well as local and federal authorities to keep our capital city safe. We will continue to be fully transparent with the public on any new information and the steps we are taking to respond.”

An additional 100 members of the Illinois National Guard will head to Washington, D.C., to protect the inauguration, joining approximately 200 members of the guard that were previously activated by the governor, Pritzker announced.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

Note: This story was originally published Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. It has been updated.

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