Members of Black Lives Matter Chicago held a rally on Monday night in support of more than 100 people arrested following widespread looting and rioting in the city the night prior.
Speaking at the rally outside a police station in the South Loop where organizers said the suspected looters are in custody, organizer Ariel Atkins excused the looting — which reportedly caused at least $60 million in property damage and left 13 police officers injured — calling the theft “reparations,” NBC Chicago reported.
“I don’t care if someone decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike store, because that makes sure that person eats,” Ariel Atkins, a BLM organizer, said. “That makes sure that person has clothes.”
“That is reparations,” Atkins added. “Anything they wanted to take, they can take it because these businesses have insurance.”
Hundreds of people swarmed downtown Chicago early Monday, breaking the windows of dozens of businesses and stealing anything they could, including merchandise and cash machines, after Chicago police officers shot an armed man in Englewood on Sunday.
Latrell Allen, 20, had fired shots at police prompting them to return fire, striking and wounding him, police said. Allen now faces attempted murder charges after the incident.
“This person fired shots at our officers,” CPD Superintendent David Brown said. “Officers returned fire and struck the individual.”
Black Lives Matter organizers expressed skepticism over the shooting, showing concern that none of the officers involved had worn body cameras.
“Police say a lot of things,” Atkins said. “Even though the Department of Justice said with the consent decree they are no longer allowed to chase people, they decided they were going to chase, and they shot this young man multiple times.”
The unrest was sparked by a social media post urging people to descend on Chicago’s business district after the officer involved shooting. A video posted on Facebook around 6:30 p.m. falsely claimed that officers had shot and killed a 15-year-old boy, Fox News reported.
“This was not an organized protest. Rather, this was an incident of pure criminality,” Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters of the looting. “This was an act of violence against our police officers and against our city.”
Hoping to prevent additional looting in the Central Business District, police are setting up barriers and raising bridges in downtown Chicago. Expressway exits are also closed and CTA trains and buses are running limited routes, NBC Chicago reported.