CHICAGO – Hundreds of people descended on downtown Chicago early Monday following a police shooting on the city's South Side, with vandals smashing the windows of dozens of businesses and making off with merchandise, cash machines and anything else they could carry, police said.
Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters that the Sunday afternoon shooting of the man who had opened fire on officers apparently prompted a social media post that urged people to form a car caravan and converge on the business and shopping district.
Some 400 additional officers were dispatched to the area after the department spotted the post. Over several hours, police made more than 100 arrests and 13 officers were injured, including one who was struck in the head with a bottle, Brown said.
Brown dismissed any suggestion that the chaos was part of an organized protest of the shooting, calling it “pure criminality" that included occupants of a vehicle opening fire on police who were arresting a man they spotted carrying a cash register.
No officers were wounded by gunfire, but a security guard and a civilian were hospitalized in critical condition after being shot, and five guns were recovered, he said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed that the melee had nothing to do with a protest. “This was straight-up felony criminal conduct,” she said. “This was an assault on our city.”
The mayhem brightened the national spotlight that has been on Chicago for weeks after a surge in gun violence that resulted in more homicides in July than any month in decades. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticized the city's handling of the violence, recently ordered more federal agents to Chicago to take part in what Attorney General William Barr called “classic crime fighting.”
Further ratcheting up the tensions in the city was a video circulating on Facebook that falsely claimed that Chicago police had shot and killed a 15-year-old boy. Posted at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, the video shows upset residents confronting officers near the scene where police shot and wounded an adult suspect they said had fired at them that day. By Monday morning, the footage had been watched nearly 100,000 times.