Chicago Protesters Surround Police Station Demanding Looters Be Freed

Protesters gathered outside a Chicago police station on Monday night, demanding the release of more than 100 people who were arrested amid mass looting and unrest.

A crowd gathered outside the police station on 18th and South State Street for a demonstration organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago on Monday evening.

Tyler LaRiviere, a Chicago-based photojournalist, tweeted that protesters had planned "to occupy the space and until people are released from the police station then party."

Later, LaRiviere tweeted that a line of officers had approached protesters with clubs in hand. "Protesters met them with umbrellas and after a bit the cops retreated back into the District 1 Station," LaRiviere added.

A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) confirmed to Newsweek that the crowd had dispersed without incident at around midnight.

Ariel Atkins, of Black Lives Matter Chicago, told The Chicago Tribune that the demonstration was in response to the police shooting of a man on Sunday and to demand the release of those arrested in the ensuing looting.

Atlkins told the newspaper that protesters are "demanding that police be defunded. Police should not be here."

Atkins also suggested that the looting that took place was justified.

"I think [the looting] is fine. People protest however they need to. People do whatever they need," she said. "These businesses have insurance. They can get it all back. We can't get our lives back once they kill us."

In videos posted on Twitter by LaRiviere, Atkins is heard telling the crowd outside the station: "We are in a pandemic. People are about to face evictions in numbers we have never seen before.

"People don't have a job. Why is [Chicago Mayor Lori] Lightfoot so stressed about some buildings when people are dying?

"Why is she so OK with us being beaten and gased, our lives threatened? Why is she so willing to put us away for life for looting?"

In a tweet on Monday night, Black Lives Matter Chicago wrote: "Multiple people have been released since we started rallying. Direct action works."

Black Lives Matter Chicago have been contacted for additional comment.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said during a news conference that more than 100 people had been arrested for charges including looting, disorderly conduct and battery against police over several hours early Monday.

He said 13 officers were injured, including a sergeant who was struck with a bottle and another officer who had his nose broken.

No officers were injured by gunfire, but a security guard and a civilian were hospitalized in critical condition after being shot. Five guns were recovered, Brown said.

Brown said the shooting of a man who opened fire on officers in Englewood, a neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, on Sunday afternoon had led to a crowd gathering in response shortly afterwards.

"Tempers flared fueled by misinformation as the afternoon turned into evening," he said.

The incident apparently sparked posts on social media that called for people to descend on downtown Chicago and start looting.

Brown said that the unrest was far from an organized protest, calling it "pure criminality." He added: "This was an act of violence against our police officers and against our city."

He also suggested that the lenient treatment of people arrested during looting that broke out in the city amid protests in the wake of George Floyd's death earlier this summer had emboldened looters.

"Not many of those cases were prosecuted to the fullest extent," Brown said. "These looters, these thieves, these criminals are emboldened by no consequences in the criminal system. They get released, many charges get dropped and so they feel emboldened to do it more."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed that what happened had little do with a protest.

"These were not poor people engage 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."

On Twitter, Lightfoot dismissed a rumor circulating on social media that police officers had killed a 15-year-old on Sunday.

She said the shooting involved a 20-year-old suspect who had fired at officers first. He was in a stable condition after being struck by officers who returned fire, Lightfoot added.

Prosecutors on Monday evening charged the man, Latrell Allen, with two counts of attempted murder for shooting at the officers, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Brown told reporters that Allen had a lengthy criminal history, which included arrests for domestic battery and child endangerment. A gun was recovered at the scene, he added.

But Allen's family have denied he had a gun, according to the Sun-Times, while the CPD have said that no body camera footage captured the incident in the 5700 block of South Racine Avenue.

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability is investigating the shooting.

Bus and train services into the downtown area were temporarily suspended early Monday and bridges over the Chicago River were raised to prevent access to and from the area.

Those restrictions were eased later on Monday, but were reimposed on Monday evening.

Lightfoot said on Twitter that access to the downtown area would be temporarily restricted from 8 p.m. on Monday until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, but said the move was not a curfew.

Access points have been designed for residents, essential workers and employees within the area and entrance to the perimeter will be manned by police, she added.

"This is an extremely heartbreaking time—COVID, gun violence epidemic, systemic racism, and now this," Lightfoot added on Twitter. "We have been knocked down, but we will not be counted out. We always get back up because that's who we are as Chicagoans."

Chicago
Police officers detain a man who was found inside of a Best Buy store after parts of the city had widespread looting and vandalism, on August 10, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images