Calling the events of Saturday a “tragedy,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot blasted armed protesters who smashed windows, looted businesses and attacked police officers in the Loop on Saturday.
Amid protests over the death of George Floyd in a confrontation with Minneapolis earlier this week, groups of protesters repeatedly clashed with police officers throughout the downtown area, and as a result Lightfoot and Chicago police have instituted a curfew of 9 p.m. Saturday.
“I’ve been engaged in the last six hours watching a tragedy unfold in our city,” Lightfoot said. “What started out as a peaceful protest has devolved into criminal conduct. I watched as protesters hurled words and projectiles at our police department.”
Lightfoot ran through a litany of objects that demonstrators had armed themselves with, including shovels, bats, hammers, metal pipes, Molotov cocktails and bottles of urine.
“To be clear, I’ve marched in a few protests in my day, but no one I was with saw the need to bring weapons to lift up our voices and express our First Amendment rights,” she said. “I want to express my disappointment, and really my total disgust, at the number of others who came to today’s protest armed for all-out battle.”
The mayor, who has expressed her frustration with the actions of Minneapolis police and has repeatedly said she feels Chicago residents have the right to voice their own frustrations, angrily blasted the armed protesters, saying she was “disgusted” at their actions.
“You don’t come to a peaceful protest with a bowling ball, or a hammer, or a shovel, or a baseball bat,” she said. “You don’t come with bottles of urine to throw at police officers.”
As images of the violence spread on social media and air on televised newscasts, Lightfoot says that the image the violent acts do damage to the message that protesters have been trying to send.
“I will not let criminals take over our city and shame the majority of us,” she said. “We are better than them, and the disgusting display that they put on today. I want to be clear: not here, not now, not ever, in Chicago. When you or anyone else behaves in this way, we all lose, by giving the same forces of oppression the false validation that they crave.”