Aug 10, 2020
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Press Conference Transcript August 10: Overnight Looting and Unrest
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Police Superintendent David Brown held a press conference on August 10 to discuss overnight unrest in the city. “You have no right, no right to take and destroy the property of others,” Mayor Lightfoot said. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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David Brown: (00:09)
David Brown: (00:11)
The seeds for the shameful destruction we saw last night were sown in the 5700 block of South Racine Avenue. On Sunday afternoon, officers responded to a call of a man with a gun. A suspect was spotted and officers attempted to interview the individual who quickly fled. As this person was running away, a gun held by this person was pointed at our police officers who gave chase and this person fired shots at our officers. Officers returned fire and struck the individual who was taken to the University of Chicago hospital and is expected to survive.
David Brown: (00:57)
The shooter is a 20-year-old man with four previous arrests for charges including burglary, child endangerment and domestic battery. I am relieved to say that none of our officers were hurt in this shooting. A gun was recovered from the scene. After this shooting, a crowd gathered on the South Side following the police action. Tempers flared fueled by misinformation as the afternoon turned into evening.
David Brown: (01:30)
CPD became aware of several social media posts encouraging looting downtown. Officers were dispatched to our downtown area once we got word of these social media posts. 400 officers were dispatched to our downtown. As the officers arrived to our downtown, the first incident happened at a store near the 87th and the Dan Ryan Expressway. Soon, car caravans were headed into the loop. This was not an organized protest. Rather, this was an incident of pure criminality. This was an act of violence against our police officers and against our city.
David Brown: (02:17)
As of now, Chicago police have made more than 100 arrests for looting, disorderly conduct, battery against police, among other charges. A total of 13 officers have been injured throughout the night, including a sergeant who was struck with a bottle. Another officer had his nose broken as he fought with a group of looters.
David Brown: (02:41)
In the last seven days, a total of nine officers have been shot at in Chicago. What we are seeing is violence against police. A security guard and a civilian we’re struck by gunfire during the melee last night in our downtown. They were both taken to Northwestern Hospital in critical condition. Five guns were recovered during these incidents. In fact, CPD has recovered at total of 149 guns this weekend. Another 164 guns were handed in as part of a gun turn in event on the West Side.
David Brown: (03:19)
Gun arrests in this city are up 15% this year compared to 2019. In one incident last night, officers were arresting a looting suspect at Michigan Avenue in Lake Street. This person was carrying a cash register he had looted out of a store. As officers were making the arrest, another vehicle passed by the officers and fired shots at the officers as their vehicle turned the corner resulted in an exchange of gunfire between our officers and these suspects. A bullet was found lodged in the cage of the police vehicle.
David Brown: (03:57)
So far this year, Chicago police have recovered 6,189 guns. Each of these guns recoveries, as you can imagine, has the potential to turn into a deadly force encounter with police. As for the weekend figures, officers made an outstanding arrest for murder, eight outstanding arrests for criminal sexual assault and two outstanding warrant arrests for robbery and five arrests for aggravated battery. Friday through Sunday, 6:00 P.M. till 11:59, there were 31 shootings throughout the city, three of which were murders. These shooting incidents and the looting we saw overnight are completely unacceptable.
David Brown: (04:43)
Criminals took to the streets with confidence that there’ll be no consequences for their actions. Let me say that again, criminals took to the street with the confidence that there would be no consequences for their actions and I, for one, refuse to allow these cowardly acts to hold our city hostage. CPD will not stand by as our beautiful downtown becomes someplace that people fear. I have instructed our detective units to create a special team of investigators to look at the hours of pod camera footage from last night. We have high definition video of suspects and vehicles. If others have security video, would you please forward them to CPDtip.com?
David Brown: (05:35)
I pledge to pursue these offenders to the fullest extent of the law. A heavy police presence will continue throughout the downtown area today and until further notice. Officers will return to working 12-hour shifts and all days off have been canceled until further notice. We are also working with other city agencies including Streets and Sanitations, the CTA, the Department of Transportation and the State Police and other agencies in a multilayered plan which will be based on lessons we’ve learned from earlier this summer.
David Brown: (06:15)
Downtown access will be restricted from 8:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. The department also has its eyes in the neighborhoods to ensure that looting does not spread based on our lessons learned. Officers will be deployed in a large measure to our neighborhoods to protect the neighborhoods. This is a beautiful city and Chicago police officers will not allow this selfish criminal act to destroy what generations of hard work have built. I will now like to call the Mayor, Mayor Lightfoot to the podium. Mayor.
Lori Lightfoot: (07:05)
Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Superintendent. I want to acknowledge Alderman Chris Taliaferro, our Chairman of The Public Safety Committee and City Council, as well as Rich Guidice and members of the command staff, including First Deputy Eric Carter. We are waking up in shock this morning. In the early morning hours of today, dozens of individuals came to our Loop, Mag Mile, River North and Gold Coast neighborhoods, as well as our commercial district around North and Clybourn. These individuals engaged with it can only be described as brazen and extensive criminal looting and destruction. To be clear, this had nothing to do with legitimate protected first amendment expression.
Lori Lightfoot: (07:54)
As the superintendent said, we are currently investigating reports that this activity was connected to a shooting and resulting activity that took place in Englewood yesterday. But regardless-
Lori Lightfoot: (08:06)
Lori Lightfoot: (08:21)
… first amendment protected speech, these were not poor people engage in petty theft to feed themselves and their families. This was straight up felony criminal conduct.
Lori Lightfoot: (08:33)
We have activated a neighborhood protection plan as the superintendent alluded to, which involves city agencies like Streets and San, CDOT, Aviation working coordination with the Chicago Police Department. These resources are being deployed throughout our city to protect our neighborhoods. Likewise, these measures will be in place for the foreseen days until we know that our neighborhoods are safe.
Lori Lightfoot: (09:02)
What happened in our city last night and this morning, of course, is deeply painful for every Chicagoan. As the superintendent said, this was an assault on our city. It undermines public safety and breeds a sense of insecurity among our residents. It also undermines our recovery efforts. These same stores that were hit last night were hit previously, not just by the looting, but by closures related to COVID-19. Stores that were targeted were more than just large chain stores, they’re all small businesses and restaurants representing our cities jobs and livelihoods, all of which we’re in the process of recovering or on the verge of recovering and getting back to work and now this.
Lori Lightfoot: (09:51)
I want to give my sincere thanks to the men and women of our police department for their professionalism throughout these very difficult times, not just last night. To our residents, I want you to make sure that we are doing everything we can to secure your homes and stores and to allow you to return to your daily activities safely and securely. To our businesses, we will continue our efforts working with you and redoubling our efforts to support you and your efforts to reopen and recover. To those who engage in this criminal behavior, let’s be clear, we are coming for you. We are already at work in finding you and we intend to hold you accountable for your actions. I don’t care, I do not care whatever justification was given for this. There is no justification for criminal behavior ever. You have no right, no right to take and destroy the property of others.
Lori Lightfoot: (10:55)
Our residents deserve to be safe. Our businesses deserve to understand and enjoy safety and security of their property and their employees and our police officers deserve to be able to do their job without having to worry about shots being fired, projectiles being thrown and being maced. This is not anywhere near acceptable.
Lori Lightfoot: (11:25)
I call upon our state’s attorney and our courts to make sure that these individuals who are arrested and those to come are held accountable, put your best people on this. We have made the case. We have a video, we have the officer testimony. These people need to be held accountable and not cycle through the system. Judges that are holding these cases, you need to step up and be responsible. We can’t continue to allow this to happen. As the superintendent said, for people to believe that there is no accountability through our criminal justice system. No one wants to hold people in jail because they are poor, but people who engage in this kind of criminal activity, they need to be held accountable and we can’t do it alone. We need the prosecution and we need the courts to step up and do their part as well and that is certainly my hope and my expectation.
Lori Lightfoot: (12:24)
The gains that we have been able to make as a city through all these challenges, the pandemic, the righteous uprising in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, the other things that we have done to demonstrate that Chicago is back and resilient, we’ve been able to do this because we stood together shoulder to shoulder, neighborhood to neighborhood, neighbor to neighbor. We can’t abandon that which has served us well over this most difficult time. But part of that, part of that means that we have to also step up in a time of challenge like this one and give no shelter to the criminals.
Lori Lightfoot: (13:04)
You’ve heard me say this before. The people who were the shooters, as well as the people who are the looters, people in neighborhoods know who these folks are. This is your time to step up and demonstrate your allegiance and your loyalty to this city and report these people who are engaged in criminal activity. We cannot do this without you and we need every single person with knowledge or information to step up. You can do that anonymously by calling the tip line, but we need people to step up. We are not going to let our city be taken over by criminals and vigilantes, no matter who they are, what they’re doing. This is a time for us all to step up and we will do just that.
Lori Lightfoot: (13:53)
At this time, I’d invite Alderman Taliaferro to say a few words and then we’ll be joined by Director Guidice from OEMC. Alderman.
Alderman Taliaferro: (14:03)
Thank you, Mayor. Thank you, Madam Mayor, Superintendent, but also let me thank the men and women of the Chicago Police Department for doing such a great job last night. As the mayor mentioned, a lot of our looters were very violent. There’s reports of those being shot and those being injured as a result of the lawless actions last night. But Chicago still is a world-class city. We stand on a foundation of great builders and we will continue to build this city. Chicago is and will always be a world-class city.
Alderman Taliaferro: (14:45)
We are still faced with social and racial injustices and inequalities in this city, but we are facing those head-on. We will continue to build on this city, but let me be very clear, those that acted last night and in an early mornings, we’re not acting on a basis of social or racial inequalities or injustices that we face not only in this city but throughout this country. They were acting on mere opportunity and that’s opportunity of gain. But despite that, we’re still going to bring you a city that we could all be very proud of.
Alderman Taliaferro: (15:22)
I echo everything that our mayor and our superintendent have said, those that are responsible need to be held accountable for their actions. There will be, there will be accountability. We saw you and we will come after you because we cannot tolerate lawlessness in the City of Chicago as we continue to build. Thank you, Mayor. Thank you, Superintendent.
Rich Guidice: (15:50)
Thank you, Mayor. Thank you, Alderman. Now, Chicago is a world-class city and we’re going to make sure that it stays that way. Yesterday we had a significant amount of resources that were already deployed throughout the city. Overnight, we brought in many more departments to OEMC. That’s going to take place today. We’re going to be coordinating for the rest of the day today, mobilizing infrastructure equipment throughout the city and wherever it’s needed.
Rich Guidice: (16:17)
I was also out there last night, a good part of the early morning till later in the morning and witnessed a lot of hardworking Chicago policemen working hard, doing the best they can to defend against what happened last night. Mayor, I hand it back over to you.
Lori Lightfoot: (16:44)
Craig, we’ll take some on topic questions. I think you know that we’re doing a standup here shortly, so we’ll have opportunity for additional questions at that point. Go ahead.
I didn’t know that but thank you, Mayor. Let’s just talk about the intelligence. A lot of people are wondering what kind of intelligence did you have about what was going on and it seemed, Superintendent, that even though you said you had 400 officers downtown, you were outgunned.
David Brown: (17:11)
One of the things that I emphasized in my comments is where we start this with the shooting in the 7th District in Englewood, the Englewood neighborhood. From that police-involved shooting of the 20 year old who shot at officers first, a crowd began to grow and become a very intense interaction between the police on the scene as we processed the crime scene and the officer’s there to make sure the crowd stayed out of the crime scene. That grew and grew into the late night hours on, yesterday.
David Brown: (17:49)
Then, almost immediately as that crowd dissipates and wanes in its size, we are monitoring between social media in our CPIC Division and we come across a post on social media that a caravan of cars being prompted to go to our downtown to loot. Within 15 minutes we respond and almost immediately the caravan is in our downtown area. This is a 15, 30 minute window of intelligence information about potential looting with caravans of cars going downtown and our response to sending 400 plus officers.
David Brown: (18:36)
I just want to emphasize, we make 400 arrests, I’m sorry, 100 arrests of looters for disorderly conduct, battery to officers and theft, along with several officers being injured, several officers being shot at. When you talk about being overwhelmed, I’m not sure I can digest when officers are doing their job, making an arrest under the threat of being shot at, I would do nothing but applaud the efforts of the Chicago police officers in response to a social media post and almost immediately caravans of cars going to our downtown area.
People are going to wonder that why weren’t more officers brought downtown if this, I mean, it seemed the response was slow, that the looters were just going and doing whatever they wanted regardless of how many police were down there.
David Brown: (19:30)
Again, I made this point in my comments, these looters act as if there are no consequences to their behavior and they based it on what happened previously, that we’ve made a lot of arrests during May and June and not many of those cases were prosecuted to the fullest extent. I think that’s my point and the mayor’s point, we have to have consequences for the arrest that Chicago police officers make through great threat to their own safety. They’re being shot at to make these arrests. These looters, these thieves, these criminals are emboldened by no consequences in the criminal system. They get released, many charges get dropped and so they feel emboldened to do it more. Do it more. That is not a consequence of the officer’s not making the arrest. The officers are making the arrest. The consequences are once prosecution and sentencing comes up, there’s no consequence. We would argue that let’s have the criminal justice system here deliver a strong message to these criminals, that there will be consequences for your behavior.
It almost sounds as though you were saying, the reason we have it is because the courts and the prosecutors were not doing their job, that they were going too easy on the looters from the last time around. Is that what you’re saying?
David Brown: (20:58)
Don’t take it from me, just go by what’s been done.
I’m just asking you, is that what you’re saying?
David Brown: (21:03)
I don’t want to do your job for you, but just go about what’s been done. There were no consequences for the people arrested.
Lori Lightfoot: (21:07)
Craig, let’s be clear. I mean, don’t bait us, okay. This is-
No. I was asked to ask this-
Lori Lightfoot: (21:12)
No. No. Do not bait us. Do not bait us. This is a serious situation. People are concerned about their safety. Officers are concerned about their safety, so don’t bait us. What we’re saying is as a result of what happened last night, there have to be consequences. We’ve got teams of people that are aggressively out there identifying the people responsible, looking at the plates and we’re going to bring them to justice. But when we do and we do make those arrests, our expectation is that this is going to be treated with a level of seriousness that it should be, period. Don’t try to bait us, mischaracterize, pit one against the other. We’re not playing that. We are in a serious situation here and we need a serious response. That’s what we’re saying, period.
Not trying to bait you, ma’am. I’m just asking you a question that seems to address the-
David Brown: (22:02)
Asked and answered. Do you have another question?
Yes, I do. You talked a little bit about it, but several questions have come in. How do you convince people and businesses downtown that it’s safe to be here?
David Brown: (22:14)
We explained that we’re committing, our off days of our officers are canceled. Our officers are committing to working 12-hour shifts to not only protect the downtown, which is important, but just as important are our neighborhoods so that we can have enough resources to, obviously, anticipate what happened before. Once we take care of downtown, then the looters before back in May and June went to the neighborhood retail areas to commit looting. We’re anticipating all that and committing enough resources to our downtown and to our neighborhood areas to protect both, because both are important.
Last two questions.
Is there intelligence to suggest that the neighborhoods are being targeted or will be targeted?
David Brown: (23:02)
The precursor to what happened before, happened last night. That’s the intelligence.
Let me look through here. I’ve got about 60 of them here.
Lori Lightfoot: (23:11)
As I said, I have another stand up and we can take questions there.
We can do that if you want, Mayor.
David Brown: (23:20)
Thanks, appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Thank you [crosstalk 00:23:22]. Thank you, Mayor.