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South suburbs declare curfews after violence spreads

Pritzker deploys 375 National Guard soldiers to Chicago

By Peter Hancock and Bob Bong

SPRINGFIELD – In the wake of violence, looting and arson

that gripped the city of Chicago over the weekend and spread into the south and

southwest suburbs, Gov. JB Pritzker said Sunday he has deployed 375 Illinois

National Guard soldiers to aid the city’s police department and other first

responders in maintaining law and order.

The violence broke out Saturday night in Chicago and many

other cities across the United States in response to the death in Minneapolis

of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died Monday, May 25, after being

pinned to the ground for nearly nine minutes with a white police officer’s knee

on his neck.

On Sunday, violence spread into south suburbs including

Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, North Riverside, Tinley Park, Orland Park, Lansing

and Calumet City.

Mobs looted stores in Calumet City’s River Oaks and River

Oaks West malls as well as some stores along Torrence Avenue in Lansing.

Orland Park police reported at least three people were

arrested in incidents. One adult and one juvenile were arrested attempting to

break in to a jewelry store at 151stand Regent. Another adult was arrested at Orland Square Mall

for disorderly conduct.

Contrary to rumors, officials said no buildings were torched

in any of the suburbs.

Village officials declared 9 p.m. curfews for Sunday in Oak

Lawn, Orland Park, Burbank, Alsip, Calumet Park, Chicago Ridge, Country Club Hills,

and Palos Park. Matteson set its 9 p.m. curfew for Sunday and Monday. Tinley

Park, Berwyn, Calumet City all set an 8 p.m. curfew. Evergreen Park set curfew

to start at 5 p.m. Blue Island’s

was set for 7 p.m.

“The Orland Park Police Department will continue to support

the peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights. We will not, however, tolerate

violence and property destruction. Individuals engaging in this behavior will

be arrested and prosecuted,” said Police Chief Timothy McCarthy.

During a news conference Sunday in Chicago, Pritzker stood

with three of the state’s most high-profile African-American leaders – Chicago

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and Cook County State’s

Attorney Kimberly Foxx – to defend the rights of peaceful protesters while

blaming the violence on organized outsiders.

“I also think it’s important to recognize that for much of

the day (Saturday), the protests here in Chicago were beautiful, massive and

peaceful,” Pritzker said. “That is as much a part of the story of what’s

happening in this city, in this country, as anything else. But late in the

evening yesterday, the protests became about violence and damage, and that

changes the conversation away from the terrible acts that took George Floyd’s

life, away from the insidious racism that we all have a role in addressing.”

Lightfoot said she respects the people expressing their

First Amendment right to free speech and that she has taken part in a number of

protests herself over the years.

“But we also have an obligation to make sure that when there

are elements amongst the protesters or others who join the fray that don’t have

respect for peaceful, nonviolent protests, but do have as their design the

decision to bring hammers, shovels, bottles of urine, excrement, accelerants as

we saw throughout yesterday and into the evening, we have an obligation also to

protect life and liberty and property.”

Lightfoot said it appeared to her that much of the looting

that took place had been organized by people taking advantage of the chaos from

the protests and that the FBI was investigating.

Stratton, meanwhile, urged calm on the part of protesters.

“Our angst must be expressed peacefully,” the lieutenant

governor said. “There is a message to be heard, and it should be heard loud and

clearly. It should be heard without the distraction or disruption of the few

who taint the goal of the many.”

Adjutant General Richard Neeley said the soldiers being

deployed to Chicago come from the 33rdMilitary Police

Battalion based in Machesney Park, with companies in Springfield, Freeport and

Fort Sheridan. He said the soldiers will serve a limited role in support of the

Chicago Police Department and Illinois State Police to manage street closures.

Those deployments are in addition to deployments in recent

days and weeks of National Guard troops to aid in flood-control projects along

the Illinois River and to assist in COVID-19 testing at various sites around

the state.

The violence Saturday in Chicago came as the city and the

state were just emerging from a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19

pandemic that had virtually shut down major segments of the state’s economy.

Most of Illinois entered the partial reopening phase on Friday, but the city of

Chicago had delayed that move until Wednesday, June 3.

In preparation for the reopening, Lightfoot said,

restaurants and other businesses that had been closed down for 10 weeks had

made investments in patio furniture and other items to help them accommodate

customers in an outdoor setting, and much of that was destroyed in Saturday

night’s violence.

“To see their hard work and their money and resources

literally go up in flames, their property reduced to kindling, that’s

heart-breaking,” Lightfoot said.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx, who was born and

raised in Chicago’s Cabrini Green neighborhood, described her feelings after

watching the video of Floyd’s death, saying it was “angering,” and just another

symptom of the racial disparities in much of American culture.

“What I remember feeling in that moment was the casualness

of all of the things that we have experienced in this country that we were

dealing with COVID-19,” she said. “The casual acceptance of racial disparities

in health care. That when we looked at the work being done in the last few

months to deal with this pandemic, and the news came out that African-Americans

were disproportionately dying, and Latinos, the casual acceptance that that’s

what happens with underlying health conditions because the casual acceptance

that we have people living in communities that don’t have access to health

care, and we just accept it.”

Ê

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news

service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers

statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the

Robert R. McCormick Foundation

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