As looters stormed the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago early Monday morning, their superficial cries for racial justice were drowned out by the sound of shattering glass in the upscale shopping district popular with tourists and residents.
Rioters and criminals amassed in the Streeterville neighborhood of downtown, ostensibly to protest the Chicago Police shooting of an armed suspect on Sunday. But instead of calling for peace, they stormed retailers and left with armloads of merchandise, even looting some stores that had been hit earlier in the summer.
The owner of Wedding Bands & Company jewelry store on N. Wabash, Koorosh Daneshgar said his store had been looted just three months earlier. Security footage showed that more than 50 people had entered his store overnight to destroy showcases, smash windows, and wreck the store computers. Fortunately, the jewelry was locked in a safe.
"It’s hard to describe,” said Daneshgar. “The Mayor has to do something. This is unacceptable."
The situation deteriorated so badly in the early morning hours on Monday, that Chicago Police cordoned off the entire downtown Loop by raising all bridges, closing tunnels, and halting public transportation in the area. Morning commuters were stuck without access to their jobs and businesses as criminals smashed windows and wreaked havoc in the normally serene part of the city.
On Tuesday, an organizer for the Chicago chapter of Black Lives Matter, an avowed Marxist organization bent on tearing down the American system, said that the looting was justified because destroyed businesses could simply turn to their insurance policies for repair. The people who robbed them, however, were simply claiming property that they were owed; they were receiving their justified "reparations" for the American sin of slavery.
"I don’t care if somebody decides to loot a Gucci’s or a Macy’s or a Nike because that makes sure that that person eats," organizer Ariel Atkins said during a rally at the South Loop police precinct. "That makes sure that that person has clothes ... That’s a reparation. Anything they want to take, take it because these businesses have insurance."
Her justification for destroying businesses and laying waste to the city, however ridiculous, still didn't explain the reason that rioters targeted a Ronald McDonald House. The children's charity, located near the Lurie Children's Hospital in Streeterville, offers families and sick kids a place to stay while receiving lengthy treatments at local hospitals. Oftentimes, the families seeking support from the Ronald McDonald Houses across the country have children being treated for cancer and other distressing, often terminal illnesses.
On Monday, looters smashed the windows of the Ronald McDonald House on E. Grand Avenue for no apparent purpose other than to disrupt families of children fighting for their lives inside. After the melee calmed down in the morning hours, several windows of the charity were smashed and the door was boarded up. Residents remained on lockdown for much of the late night and early morning.
One child, two-year-old Owen Buell, missed his trip home to Joliet for his birthday party. Owen is fighting stage four neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that attacks the organs, chest, stomach, and bones of young children. Because of the looting and subsequent lockdown, Owen and his family could not safely leave the Ronald McDonald House.
"The whole door was shattered and it looked like a bullet hole, so I started freaking out thinking about how unsafe that was," Owen's mother Valerie Mitchell said. "You shouldn’t feel that way when your kid needs medical care. You shouldn’t be afraid to walk a few blocks down the street."
More than 100 people were arrested for rioting and looting after the fracas early Monday morning. Protesters later called for the release of those criminals, referring to them once again as "protesters" for racial justice. Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said the looters and vandals believed they would not be punished for their actions.
"Criminals took the streets with confidence that there would be no consequences for their actions," Brown said in a Monday press conference. Both Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx have been criticized for not punishing criminals amid cries for racial justice this summer. Lightfoot said on Monday, however, that she wanted violators of the law to be held accountable.
Foxx maintained that she wasn't "in the arresting business," and that most of the cases brought to her since the Memorial Day death of George Floyd were just misdemeanors, only 29 percent were felonies. However, Foxx noted the difference between peaceful protests and what she saw on Monday morning.
The violence and destruction we saw last night was unacceptable. The @cookcountysao has been extremely clear in making the distinction between peaceful protestors and prosecuting those causing harm, damage, and inciting violence. Simple fixes can’t solve complex problems. pic.twitter.com/MeOrQgxj8t— State’s Attorney Kim Foxx (@SAKimFoxx) August 10, 2020
Calls for the resignation of Foxx and Lightfoot have been persistent throughout the summer in Chicago, in which homicide rates have spiked and residents feel that encroaching violent mobs have gone unpunished and even celebrated.