During Saturday night’s protests, several downtown Chicago businesses were subject to looting and some even set ablaze, actions Mayor Lori Lightfoot called organized.
The protests started out as demonstrations calling for change after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis during a confrontation with police, but as the day wore on looting, arson and vandalism began to spread throughout River North and the Loop on Saturday, criminal acts Lightfoot say were planned.
“There's no question that both the people who were fighting who brought the weapons that was absolutely organized and choreographed,” Lightfoot said during a press conference on Sunday in reference to attendees bringing shovels, hammers and other objects to the protests.
“It seems also clear that the fires that were set both the vehicles and buildings- that that was organized. That wasn’t opportunistic.”
Lightfoot also described the looting that took place as premeditated.
“Somebody driving up with a U-Haul, having crews jump out, breaking the windows going in and literally hauling out the merchandise in coordination,” she said. “Car caravans doing a similar thing, people jumping out using a metal device to pop the window, jumping into the stores and then loading up the cars on like an assembly line.”
Much of the city woke Sunday to the stream of damage that marked the path where protesters marched in downtown Chicago Saturday evening, leaving behind broken windows, graffiti and the shattered remains of some of the city's most popular shops.
The mayor went on and compared protests in the wake of Laquan McDonald’s death to this weekend’s demonstrations as “apples and oranges.”
“People took to the street, people protested, people shut down Michigan Avenue, on Black Friday, but all of that all of that was done peacefully,” Lightfoot said. “This was something different, and there were clearly efforts made to subvert peaceful protest in to turn it into something else.”
Lightfoot said the city is working with the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the ATF’s Bomb and Arson unit to find out who’s responsible.
“The investigation of that is still very young. But I'm confident that we will get to the bottom of it and be able to explain in a more fulsome way, what exactly happened, ” Lightfoot said “But make no mistake, this was an organized effort last night.”