CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has ordered the National Guard to support Chicago police following violent protests Saturday night that left massive damage downtown.
Thousands of people marched through the Loop to protest in memory of George Floyd, who died while being arrested on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. Protesters could be seen setting cars on fire, breaking into stores and looting. A lot of the violence happened on State Street and Michigan Avenue but also took place throughout the city.
"For much of the day yesterday the protests here in Chicago were beautiful, massive and peaceful," Pritzker said. "But late in the evening yesterday the protest became about violence and damage, and that changes the conversation away from the terrible acts that took George Floyd's life, away from the insidious racism that we all have a role in addressing."
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that she requested Pritzker send in the National Guard after consulting with Chicago Police Dept. Supt. David Brown. Pritzker said 375 National Guard members will come in to carry out a "limited mission." The National Guard will primarily be providing perimeter line support after the city restricted access to the Loop Sunday.
When asked why the National Guard was not called in Saturday Lightfoot said, "It's not a resource that you enter into lightly. We don't want to squander that resource."
"We saw four shootings in the Loop last night from 7 to 11 p.m.," Lightfoot said. "Six people were shot. One person killed."
Brown said more than 20 CPD officers were hospitalized, and at least two required surgery.
"Let me be clear," he said. "Last night was not a protest. People who came downtown were not there to exercise their first amendment right. These people arrived in the central business district prepared to damage and steal. Who brings a hammer to a protest? Nobody."
He said 240 people were arrested as a result of the protests and looting.
Lightfoot said there was organized looting with some people showing up with vans and bringing goods out of stores into the vans.
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) said there was a pattern to the types of stores that were looted.
"Nearly every branch bank was broken into," he said. "Nearly every ATM was removed, cracked open and strewn in the streets. Pharmacies were specifically targeted."
"We will not sacrifice our local democracy to lawlessness. We will not," Brown said.
Lightfoot spoke out against the violence, saying the violent protesters should be ashamed.
"I urge you to think long and hard about what you can and should do to devote the passion and the energy you showed last night to wreaking havoc in our city to something better," she said. "When you or anyone behaves this way, we all lose. This chaos and destruction is not the right tactic to bring change."
However, she said she stands by the peaceful protests.
"Make no mistake there is a lot of righteous anger and grief,"she said. "And that isn't just about George Floyd, although that was the catalyst for this expression. It's also about Laquan McDonald, Quintonio LeGrier and so many others before and since."
She made an emotional call for a moment of silence across the city at 5 p.m.
"This is a time for us to unite," she said. "We have to turn our pain into purpose in order to get through this moment together."
Pritzker and other officials also urged protesters to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing even as protests continue.
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