downtown chicago

Chicago Conducts Public Safety Drill Downtown Thursday Evening

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The city of Chicago blocked off multiple intersections downtown Chicago Thursday evening as part of a precautionary public safety drill.

The drill started at 6 p.m. in the city's "Central Business District" and was expected to last until 9 p.m., according to the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Access to the area itself wasn't restricted, but residents encountered some traffic disruptions during the drill.

The perimeters for the drill included: Division Street on the north, 18th Street on the south, Clark Street on the west and Lake Shore Drive on the east.

"The drill is part of the City’s ongoing effort to engineer security measures in order to mitigate risk to the Central Business District," OEMC said in a statement.

On Wednesday, city employees were seen putting large barricades up at several intersections in Streeterville and the Gold Coast, including on East Oak Street, East Walton Street and North Michigan Avenue.

OEMC called those barriers part of the city's "critical infrastructure assets... staged at various access points."

The city of Chicago began installing barricades at multiple intersections near the downtown area on Wednesday, as city officials said a public safety drill was slated to take place on Thursday. NBC 5's Lexi Sutter has more on the situation in downtown.

"The focus of this exercise is to ensure the safety and well-being of residents, workers, businesses and peaceful gatherings. The drill is not in response to any event but has been planned for weeks as part of our ongoing safety efforts," OEMC added.

Chicago Ald. Brian Hopkins of the 2nd Ward on Wednesday said he was concerned about what he called a "spillover effect" from unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after police shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, on Sunday in an incident that was captured on video and sparked outrage nationwide.

While Hopkins said there were a "variety of rumored events that may or may not happen," he noted that he didn't "want to jump at every shadow" and "can't react to all of them."

Raki Mehra, who owns a cigar shop at Hubbard and State streets, shared similar concerns, fearing that the unrest in Kenosha could lead to looting in Chicago.

"They took everything, all my inventory, almost 85 percent of my inventory was gone," he said, recounting looting that happened earlier this summer. "They broke the cabinets, they broke the glass."

The city of Chicago began installing barricades at multiple intersections near the downtown area on Wednesday, as city officials said a public safety drill was slated to take place on Thursday. NBC 5's Charlie Wojciechowski reports.

Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez questioned why other areas of the city are not seeing the same amount of attention or concern over public safety.

"We are not protecting the entire city as one," the 15th ward Alderman said. "We are cherry picking neighborhoods."

The family-owned X5 Cuts on Dearborn Street was hit twice in less than three months, following looting that happened after the death of George Floyd and most recently, looting that erupted on Aug. 10 following a police-involved shooting in Englewood.

The owners have since replace almost everything that was stolen, and hope the city will be prepared to handle any type of unrest in the future.

"A lot of people said it's going to happen again," the manager said. "They are going to do it one more time."

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