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Unrest Erupts In Downtown Chicago Following Police Shooting

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In Chicago today, there are efforts to bring calm to the city after hundreds of people broke shop windows and stole merchandise overnight. City officials call it a brazen attack that hurts the city's efforts to recover from the pandemic. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: The unrest that occurred in Chicago in the wee hours of the morning was a haunting deja vu of looting and violence that broke out in the aftermath of protests over the May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But Chicago's police Superintendent David Brown was quick to point out that the mayhem this time was entirely different.

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DAVID BROWN: 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.

CORLEY: Brown says the seeds for the violence were sown earlier when officers shot a man who opened fire on them Sunday. He was wounded and survived, and no officers were injured. However, that incident apparently prompted social media posts urging looters to converge on the city's business district. Over several hours, police made more than 100 arrests, and 13 officers were injured. Kimberly Bares, the president of Chicago's Magnificent Mile Association, called this morning's violence a kick in the teeth for businesses recovering from the pandemic and earlier looting.

KIMBERLY BARES: They don't want to close up shop. They don't want to board up. But they also are trying to figure out how to keep their employees safe, how to protect their merchandise, how to protect the buildings.

CORLEY: Law enforcement seems to blame prosecutors and judges for the conflict, saying there were not consequences for people arrested for looting earlier this summer. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot seemed to agree.

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LORI LIGHTFOOT: 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.

CORLEY: Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, the prosecutor for the Chicago area, says police aren't working alone and that her office continues to work with a focus on violent offenders. She says there's no simple solution in what is a truly unprecedented summer.

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KIM FOXX: The mothers who are mourning the losses of their children, the people who are afraid to go out into the stores and into the streets, the people who are unable to come downtown today to go to work are looking for answers, not blame.

CORLEY: For now, answers seem to be elusive. Illinois State Police worked with Chicago police during the early morning violent. Mayor Lightfoot and the Illinois governor say it's not necessary to bring in the National Guard to quell any violence in the city.

Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF JON HOPKINS' "LIGHT THROUGH THE VEINS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.