Property owners warn mayor Lightfoot: stop the anarchy or we’re all getting the hell out of Chicago

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CHICAGO, IL– After months of civil unrest leading to looting, violence, and vandalism of many of their downtown stores, Chicago business and property management companies are fed up.

They say they are on the brink of leaving town if greater measures to curb crime are not taken.

Over the weekend of August 7th, rioters and looters caused an estimated $60 million in damages when they violently took to Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and completely emptied out and destroyed multiple department stores. 

Their reasoning?

Rumors that a 15-year-old unarmed, black boy was shot by an officer in Englewood.

The initial post made by someone who claimed to have witnessed the incident, spread through social media like wildfire. The post encouraged and instructed people to grab tools and prepare to loot downtown businesses.

By the time the truth came out about the suspect, identified as 20-year-old Latrell Allen who was armed, shot at the police first, and has a criminal history, rioters and looters had already begun to destroy Chicago’s downtown area.

Allen, who was shot in the shoulder, is currently recovering in the hospital and is expected to survive. He was charged with two felony counts of attempted first-degree murder, and one felony count of possession of a concealed weapon.

According to police, he is a convicted felon, and has two other pending misdemeanor charges. A judge has set his bond at $1 million. 

August 9th’s civil unrest was the second time the city has seen such drastic widespread rioting and looting. Business owners are tired, and have said that they are done with city officials who seems to be overwhelmed by how to handle the increasing levels of crime.

One man, who remained nameless, owns a jewelry store downtown, and this is the second time in less than three months that his store was ransacked. 

He said:

“I’m almost ready to move to find a much quieter location in a less violent city. It’s basically a lawless land.”

Other business and store owners are demanding that the city spend more money to keep tourist areas safe. Kimberly Bares, president and chief executive of the Magnificent Mile Association said in a statement:

“Her 650 members, including large retailers and hotels are looking for a stronger full-time police presence in the area as well as investments in underserved neighborhoods to address longstanding issues of inequality.”

A comic book shop owner said:

“Police used to be able to stop trouble before it started. Now, they can’t do that. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

On Wednesday, August 12th, a prominent property management president sent a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressing his concern. Sudler President Steven Levy said the residents he represents and the company’s staff do not feel safe in Chicago after the city was hit again by violent looters.

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Sudler property management represents more than 100 local condominium associations, more than 22,000 homeowners, and about 38,000 residents.

He wrote in his letter:

“The homeowners we represent do not feel safe. From Hyde Park to the Gold Coast to Edgewater, residents across the city are adjusting their daily routines out of fear. They’re avoiding neighborhood walks after 6:00 p.m. At night, they don’t stand too close to their windows or dare to enjoy their outdoor balconies or terraces.”

He added:

“Their children, who will likely be homebound for the remainder of the year, are forced to play indoors because local parks and playgrounds have been inhabited with litter, vandalism, and crime. This is not a way to live and I can’t fault homeowners when they tell me they’re considering leaving Chicago.”

Levy concluded his letter by saying:

“We need you to fulfill your duty of ensuring the well-being of all Chicago residents. Without immediate change, I’m concerned that homeowners will flee, properties will stand vacant, business will fail, and the Chicago we both know will be a shell of what it once was and what it could be.”

Mayor Lightfoot’s office responded to Levy’s concern by saying this:

“There is no higher priority for the City than ensuring the safety of all Chicagoans and their communities, which is why Mayor Lightfoot is utilizing every last City resource to not only prevent looting, but to ensure those who commit the kinds of criminal acts we saw on Monday are brought to justice.

“As part of the City’s neighborhood protection plan, the Chicago Police Department has continued working with all City departments and agencies to ensure that Chicago communities as well as its downtown area have the police resources and infrastructure assets, which includes salt and tow trucks, needed to stay safe and protected.

“This includes deploying a heavier police presence along Chicago’s shopping districts, restricting access to the downtown area overnight, deploying more than 100 transportation, streets, and sanitation and other infrastructure trucks and resources along our commercial corridors.

“On top of establishing a special team of detectives to identify suspects, stolen merchandise, and ensure offends are held accountable, the Department is also already impounding vehicles involved in the looting on Monday. We will continue to work closely with local businesses, property management companies, and residents to ensure their concerns are not only addressed, but additional safety and security measures are in place to prevent any further looting and civil unrest.”

ABC 7’s I-Team reported that when looters broke into stores in the early morning hours of August 10th, it looked as though Chicago police were outnumbered and outmaneuvered. According to their report, CPD tactics said that there was no comprehensive, layered response plan in place when retail raids and wholesale looting began in the city.

Even though social media showed multiple messages encouraging a downtown plunder at midnight, police were unable to position themselves to stop the looting and rioting. One possible factor hindering their capability to protect and serve in a city that is being ran by protesters, rioters, and looters, is the many lawsuits that have been filed by civil liberties organizations.

These lawsuits allege that the department was spying on activity protected by the First Amendment, so now CPD’s one robust practice of using social media monitoring software to be proactive and attempt to stop crime before it happens, is used less frequently. 

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