Chicago looting

Tense Emergency Chicago City Council Meeting Sends National Guard Resolution to Committee

In a tense and at times heated meeting, city aldermen voted to instead send the resolution to a committee before consideration by the full council

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An raucous emergency City Council meeting in Chicago, reminiscent of Council Wars, brought tension and heated debate, even while virtual.

"This is not a dictatorship," Ald. Anthony Beale at one point told Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot during the meeting.

The one-hour session ended abruptly, before a representative from Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office could participate.

Th special meeting was held Friday after four alderman called for the governor to declare a state of emergency and deploy the Illinois National Guard over recent unrest and looting.

Alds. Leslie Hairston, Anthony Beale, Raymond Lopez and Anthony Napolitano issued the call in a letter to Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia.

In the resolution, the group of aldermen say Chicago "has never seen more violence, unrest and organized looting," alleging residents and visitors are "afraid to travel" throughout the city.

"Businesses across our City have been subject to unyielding criminals, many on the brink of failure contemplating their future in Chicago," the resolution reads, going on to say, "The continued attacks against Chicago's collective safety will impact our residential real estate, current and future investments in our communities, and our City's future economic development."

The resolution calls on Pritzker to declare a state of emergency and deploy the Illinois National Guard to Chicago to assist the Chicago Police Department for no less than four months.

But in a tense and at times heated meeting, city aldermen voted to instead send the resolution to a committee before consideration by the full council.

"I support a hearing on this matter not because I am opposed to partnering with the National Guard, but because we need more information from Chicago’s leaders about how this crisis will be addressed," Ald. Matt O'Shea said in a statement following the meeting. "We also need to hear from CPD Superintendent Brown on plans to address manpower issues created by record high retirements and providing relief to officers who have been working twelve hour shifts with days off cancelled."

Though the move was approved by a majority of aldermen, some of whom criticized the group for not following procedure by sending the resolution to committee first, others said they were prepared to debate the topic at the meeting regardless of whether or not they were in favor of the resolution.

"Do I think we need to have the national guard here? Nope. Not even- no, not even close, but I do respect the ability for my colleagues to make that conversation happen so we can debate," said Ald. Andre Vasquez.

The call and the meeting itself came more than a week after chaos and looting erupted in the city's downtown on Aug. 10, resulting in more than 100 arrests and leaving more than a dozen officers injured as groups broke into stores and stole merchandise in several neighborhoods, according to police.

Lightfoot defended the council's plan to ultimately delay a decision on whether or not the National Guard will be brought to the city.

"I don't want a circumstance where we bring in a tool that isn't the right tool for the moment," Lightfoot said in a press conference following the meeting. "I have a lot of conversations with the governor on a range of different issues - this being one of them. Of course, I know that that resource is available and as you know, at the end of May, beginning of June, I asked for and received the National Guard here in our city. Since that time, we've made I think, substantial strides in making sure that we have the deployments of our police in areas where we are challenged most by violence. And in addition to that, we have had the ongoing support have our sheriff's police."

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