August 10 Report: Widespread Looting in Chicago

Scenes from Chicago looting
Scenes from Chicago looting

Today’s coronavirus report is much like yesterday’s, and the general downward trend continues.  This is good news, but it is difficult to get too excited.  The U.S. reported 48,354 new cases for a total of 5.054 million.  There were only 539 deaths due to COVID-19, for a total of 162,481.  Globally, there were approximately 225,000 new cases for a total of 19.9 million cases while global deaths reached 731,864.

The big news overnight is that massive looting broke out in Chicago where high-end stores in the downtown shopping district.  Throughout the loop, rioters targeted jewelry stores, the Nordstroms, Saks, the Nike store, Coach, Hugo Boss, and even ATMs.  Looting then spread to other neighborhoods where other retailers including target, Walgreens, CVS, and Best Buy were targeted.

During the looting, gunshots were exchanged with police and security guard and a civilian were shot.  Chicago PD reports that more than 100 people were arrested.  Thirteen officers were injured.

An Orchestrated Attack

This was not a peaceful protest in which a few “bad apples” broke into some stores.  This was a carefully coordinated attack designed to surprise and overwhelm police and security so the looter could steal as much valuable merchandise as possible.  Caravans of cars would pull up to neighborhoods, people would get out and attack store windows and doors.  Once they broke through, dozens of people would run in, grab valuable merchandise, and run back out, jumping into the cars.  After hitting some of the most expensive shops in town, the caravan broke into smaller groups and headed into different neighborhoods, apparently looking for other targets of opportunity.

Chicago had to suspended bus and train services and raise bridges to prevent more rioters from coming in.  Ramps from highways were also closed.

A similar outbreak of looting occurred in May.

Is this the future?

Sunday night, Chicago was targeted.  Tonight or next week, it could be any other city. One day, it could be your city. Social media is filled with people who want to “go shopping” and “get their share” the next time there is some looting.

Because police need an advance warning to call up their riot squads, get everyone equipped and on the bus, the fast-hitting tactics used by these criminals are sufficient to overwhelm most cities that have a limited number of police on duty at any given time.  

This is like a flash mob that targets an entire block instead of a single store.  And because most perpetrators suffer no consequences, they will continue to launch random attacks where they can loot, scoot, and sell their ill-gotten gains. 

Because prosecutors have generally let “peaceful protesters” go with a slap on the wrist, there is no accountability.  The justice system needs to clearly distinguish between people peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights and those who are there simply for violence, destruction of property, and theft, and the latter need to be punished.  This is definitely a case where sparing the rod has spoiled the child.

Before COVID-19, downtowns had experienced a renaissance, an upwelling of business and residential neighborhoods.  If looting becomes a common occurrence, on top of protests and COVID-19 infection fears, our downtowns will wither and decay again, and that would be bad for everyone.