Black Lives Matter Chicago Organizer Defends Looting: 'That's Reparations'

A Black Lives Matter Chicago organizer has defended the mass looting that took place in the city early Monday, calling it "reparations."

Ariel Atkins spoke outside a police station in the South Loop on 18th and South State Street on Monday, where protesters had gathered to call for the release of those who were arrested.

"I don't care if somebody decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy's or a Nike because that makes sure that that person eats. That makes sure that that person has clothes," Atkins said, according to NBC Chicago.

"That's reparations. That is reparations. Anything they want to take, take it because these businesses have insurance. They're going to get their money back. My people aren't getting anything."

Atkins also hit back at Rev. Jesse Jackson, who tweeted earlier on Monday that the looting that had taken place in Chicago was "morally wrong."

He wrote: "This act of pillaging, robbing & looting in Chicago was humiliating, embarrassing &morally wrong. It must not be associated with our quest for social justice and equality."

But Atkins maintained that Jackson "has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter."

She added: "Jesse Jackson was not there for the creation of Black Lives Matter. Jesse Jackson can keep his opinions to himself."

During a news conference on Monday, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said more than 400 officers had been deployed to stop the mass looting and unrest that broke out in the hours after police shot a man in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago's South Side on Sunday.

He said more than 100 people were arrested for charges including looting, disorderly conduct and battery against police.

Authorities said misinformation circulated that the person shot on Sunday was a child and social media posts had encouraged looting.

This act of pillaging, robbing & looting in Chicago was humiliating, embarrassing &morally wrong. It must not be associated with our quest for social justice and equality. #DrKing, #MedgarEvers & #JohnLewis, our martyrs, cry together in shame. #StopTheViolence #SaveTheChildren

— Rev Jesse Jackson Sr (@RevJJackson) August 10, 2020

Police identified the man as Latrell Allen, 20, and said he was shot after opening fire on officers first. They said a gun was recovered at the scene.

The shooting is under investigation, but the Chicago Police Department have said that no body camera footage captured the incident in the 5700 block of South Racine Avenue.

Allen is now facing attempted murder charges and was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail Tuesday, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot condemned the looting during a news conference on Monday.

"These were not poor people engaged in petty theft to feed themselves and their families. This was straight up felony criminal conduct," she said. "This was an assault on our city."

Lightfoot called for those arrested amid the unrest to be held accountable and said resources were being deployed and measures taken to protect Chicago's neighborhoods.

In a statement, Black Lives Matter Chicago condemned Lightfoot for reserving her criticism for looters and not for the officers who shot a Black man.

"The mayor clearly has not learned anything since May, and she would be wise to understand that the people will keep rising up until the CPD is abolished and our Black communities are fully invested in," it said, referring to the unrest in the city that broke out in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

The statement added: "Over the past few months, too many people—disproportionately Black and Brown—have lost their jobs, lost their income, lost their homes, and lost their lives as the city has done nothing and the Chicago elite have profited.

"When protesters attack high-end retail stores that are owned by the wealthy and service the wealthy, that is not "our" city and has never been meant for us.

"The Mayor cannot expect people to play by her rules as she refuses to treat them with basic dignity. These protests can only end when the safety and wellbeing of our communities is finally prioritized."

A demonstrator holds a sign during a protest outside the 7th District station of the Chicago Police Department on August 11, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images