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Chicago to Move to “Phase 3” of Reopening as Protests and Civil Unrest Continue

Despite four nights of protests and civil unrest, a citywide curfew, and the national guard being activated, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city will proceed with “Phase 3” of reopening. 

Chicago Police patrol the Uptown neighborhood on Monday evening. Photo by Meredith M. Goldberg.

“After a lot of consultation and yes, a lot of prayer: we will reopen tomorrow and take this important next step as planned,” Lightfoor said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I heard that over and over again in neighborhoods that are hard hit for years, that they need a lifeline and they need it now. I want to encourage our customers to shop locally… that’s going to be critically important for them to survive.”

Monday was the fourth consecutive night of protests against police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police on Memorial Day weekend. Thousands gathered and marched once again throughout the city, with a large march passing through north-side neighborhoods including Wrigleyville, Boystown, Uptown, and Lincoln Park, as well as rallies on the South Side, including outside the 2nd District police station at 51st and Wentworth where some arrested protesters were being held. 

Chicagoans on Monday evening during a fourth night of protests against police brutality. Photos by Meredith M. Goldberg.

City officials have frequently contended that the Chicago Police have shown “incredible restraint” during demonstrations and have maintained their focus on stopping looting and other property destruction, but activists have said protesters have often been targeted indiscriminately. More than 1,000 people have been arrested so far during the days and nights of unrest. 

“The police are here to protect property and capital, not human life. As long as this city is putting property and capital above human life, we are going to fight,” said Kristiana of the Let Us Breathe Collective at a press conference outside the station. “We are here to demand the release of all protesters who are being held for an inordinate amount of time in order to intimidate and discourage people from taking the streets and expressing their outrage at George Floyd and all of the murders of our people in the streets by the police.”

Americans across the country have been taking to the streets to protest mistreatment of people of color by police, and cities across America both the police and National Guard members have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets, batons, and arrests. 

Just before President Trump addressed the nation from the Rose Garden on Monday evening, police could be seen firing tear gas and flash bang grenades into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators to clear them from the surrounding streets. Shortly after he finished his remarks, Trump posed for a photo-op in front of St. John’s Church holding a bible. 

Trump’s Rose Garden speech was 8 minutes. In it, the president threatened to deploy the U.S. military to cities if local officials are not dominant enough, saying ”I will solve the problem for them.” He also announced “swift and decisive action” to protect Washington DC, including imposing  a 7pm curfew on the capital. “I am your president of law and order,” he said. “I am mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting to end the destruction and arson and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights.”

Chicago Police on Monday evening during a fourth night of protests against police brutality. Photo by Meredith M. Goldberg.

Both Mayor Lightfoot and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker have said they would not ask the president to deploy the military. 

“It’s not gonna happen, not in my city,” Lightfoot said. “And I’m not confident that the president has the power to do that. But we have our lawyers hard at work and if he tries to do that and usurp the power of our governor, and myself as the mayor, we will see him in court.”

The governor said what Trump called for was “illegal.” “The president can only send in federal troops if the state asks for it. Our state’s not asking for it,” said Pritzker. “I don’t know any governor that would or will. We are dealing with it. Many of us called up the National Guard to support local law enforcement, but we’re also protecting the rights of the peaceful protesters because they have legitimate concerns that need to be heard.”

Meanwhile, back in the evening in Chicago, an estimated 2000 demonstrators from the Lakeview-Uptown neighborhoods took Lake Shore Drive by around 6:30pm amid a growing police presence throughout the area. Protesters turned west and took a knee at Broadway and Sunnyside Avenue in Uptown as they reached the end of the march, though there were few officers present by that time. After leaving Broadway and Sunnyside Avenue, demonstrators headed back south on Broadway and then east on Irving Park Road toward Lake Shore Drive.

Looting continued throughout the city and across the metropolitan area again overnight. Four people were shot which left two dead in Cicero, and 60 were arrested. Gunfire could be heard throughout the night in many neighborhoods on the South Side, including Pilsen. Multiple reports on social media alleged that black residents in the area were being targeted for harassment. As he drove through the neighborhood to check on residents, 25th Ward Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez condemned any harassment of neighbors in a video posted to Facebook.

“We love our black residents, we love our black community. We must make sure that we have the political clarity and understanding that we will not tolerate, we cannot harass our black neighbors,” said Lopez. “We must today more than ever make sure we have the political clarity and courage to stand up to the injustices, to stand up to the issues we have in our communities. From police brutality to the starvation, lack of relief, the inequality that starves all of us. We’ll make sure any harassment to our black neighbors will be condemned as well.”

Protests are scheduled to continue on Tuesday. More than 1,000 people began marching through Wrigleyville around 2pm.

Sidewalk chalk in Uptown on Monday evening. Photo by Meredith M. Goldberg.

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