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Chicago's Lesbian Mayor Lightfoot Condemns Looting, Gets Backlash

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

There was extensive unrest in the city, including vandalism and looting at businesses, Sunday night in the wake of a police shooting.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago has condemned widespread looting that took place overnight after the police shooting of a man on the city's south side.

"We are waking up in shock this morning," the lesbian mayor said at a press conference Monday. The activity in the city's affluent Magnificent Mile shopping district and neighboring areas was "brazen and extensive criminal destruction," not peaceful protest, she said, while acknowledging the righteous indignation that arose in her city and others after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. Windows were smashed and merchandise taken from stores, and more than 100 people were arrested.

"This is not legitimate First Amendment-protected speech," Lightfoot said. "These were not poor people engaging in petty theft to feed themselves and their families. This was straight-up felony, criminal conduct."

Lightfoot and Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said that misinformation circulated about the police action that took place Sunday afternoon, such as reports that the man shot was an unarmed juvenile. Officers responded to a report of a man with a gun in the largely Black Englewood neighborhood on the south side. He shot at police as he fled on foot, and the officers returned fire, striking him. He was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive. Brown said the man was 20 years old, not 15 as was rumored, and had a criminal record.

Mass transit service to Chicago's downtown area was shut down overnight and was in the process of being restored Monday morning. Also, effective Monday night, access to the area will be restricted between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., Brown said.

Many of the businesses that were hit overnight had been targeted during the Floyd protests as well. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx has been criticized for the alleged quick release of arrestees, and Lightfoot called on the state's attorney's office to take the Sunday night action seriously. Foxx has responded that arrestees are not released prematurely, and Lightfoot pushed back at a reporter with a follow-up question on Foxx, saying the city values its partnership with the state's attorney's office. "Don't bait us," the mayor said.

Lightfoot is also being criticized from many quarters. Black Lives Matter Chicago tweeted that her response to the events of Sunday night is "a shocking condemnation of slave revolts," although some Black civil rights leaders, such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson, contended the Sunday night action had nothing to do with social justice. Some others pointed out systemic racism in Chicago, while still others said Lightfoot and Foxx have not done enough to maintain order. Lightfoot additionally faced backlash for her objections to a largely maskless crowd at Chicago's gay-popular Montrose Beach Sunday afternoon; some social media commenters and conservative media said she broke up a "gay beach party." After Lightfoot visited the area, fences were put up and entrances blocked.

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