Live Updates: Chicago Protests and Unrest

George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police set off several days of protest against police brutality in Chicago. WBEZ covered the events and aftermath as they unfolded from May 31 - June 14, 2020.

Lightfoot Lifts City Curfew

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has lifted the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, effective immediately. The mayor announced the news on her Twitter page this afternoon.

“I know this time in our city and our country has been difficult for us all, and I’m grateful to our residents for working together to navigate this challenging time,” she tweeted.

The response to her tweet, posted at 12:37 p.m., was immediate. In less than 20 minutes the tweet had more than 1,000 likes and nearly 400 retweets.

Lightfoot imposed the curfew after a large downtown protest last weekend led to a night of widespread looting.

Chicago reopens access to downtown area

It’s a lot easier to get into the Loop as of this morning. The CTA resumed bus and train service in and out of downtown, Lake Shore Drive reopened, and ramp closings on I-90/94 and I-290 have been removed, according to the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. All Chicago River bridges that had been raised were scheduled to be lowered and open around 9 a.m., OEMC said on Twitter this morning.

The city had nearly locked down access to the downtown area for a week, a response to ongoing demonstrations and looting last weekend. Protests continued yesterday, including a march from Union Park on the Near West Side that drew tens of thousands of people. But the latest demonstrations have been peaceful, and the city opted to remove restrictions on downtown access even though more protests are planned around the city today.

Although access to downtown is being restored, a citywide 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew remains in effect until further notice.

Thousands march peacefully in downtown Chicago

Demonstrators Chicago Protests
Demonstrators on the Near North Side of Chicago on Saturday, June 6, 2020 Katherine Nagasawa / WBEZ

A crowd estimated at 20,000 by police marched through the streets of Chicago today, chanting and waving signs to protest the death of George Floyd and the police mistreatment of people of color.

The largest march kicked off from Union Park on the city’s near West Side where organizers urged protesters to remain peaceful before the crowd headed north. Police estimated the crowd size at 20,000, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Read the full story.

City hiring private security to protect businesses

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said the city is hiring three private security firms to guard businesses after widespread looting last weekend. The city is paying Illinois Security Professionals, AGB Investigative Services and Monterrey Security to provide more than 100 guards “to protect the local retail shops, grocery stores and pharmacies that community members rely on every single day.”

The city said in a news release that the guards will be unarmed and will not have policing powers, “but are another set of eyes and ears to support efforts to deter looters.” The guards will wear visible identification, the release said.

The city has set aside $1.2 million for security providers through an emergency procurement process. But the release said the final costs “will be determined by the personnel and resources utilized on an as-needed basis this weekend.”

Last night, Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st Ward) tweeted his concerns about the city hiring Monterrey, a politically-connected firm with a controversial track record. La Spata tweeted that the city was seeking 500 private guards, and he expressed concern about them being accountable.

Teachers union joins call to remove police from schools

The Chicago Teachers Union is supporting calls to end the controversial practice of stationing police in Chicago public schools. The CTU said it’s taking part today in a caravan and rally with students and community groups that want CPS to cancel its contract with Chicago police.

After gathering at two schools to begin a march and caravan this morning, demonstrators planned to converge at Gage Park High School. Opponents of police in classrooms contend that instead of fostering a safe environment, they increase tension and fear. And some critics believe the millions spent on police in schools could go to education.

“Those resources could be better utilized in classrooms like mine, in classrooms that are in the arts and other things that help facilitate social and emotional learning,” said Quinten Washington, a CPS music teacher at today’s demonstration.

More than 75% of Chicago’s 93 district-run high schools have police stationed inside them. The Chicago Board of Education approved an agreement to pay the police $33 million each year for the school resource officers. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot yesterday rejected calls to remove police stationed in schools. She said the police-in-schools program improved last year when the roles and responsibilities of officers were clarified.

Lightfoot hiring firm for extra security in city

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office is hiring a politically-connected security firm to provide unarmed guards at locations in the city this weekend. But some aldermen said they’re concerned about the plan to deploy guards from Monterrey Security.

Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st Ward) said there will be no way to ensure accountability for the 500 private guards. Monterrey works at Soldier Field and has frequently faced criticism in the past.

The company’s City Hall lobbyist is the husband of City Clerk Anna Valencia. The mayor’s office did not immediately comment on the deal with Monterrey.

Head of Chicago’s police board said he was hit by police during protest

The head of Chicago’s police board said he was one of several people struck by Chicago police during a confrontation with protesters on Sunday.

Ghian Foreman filed a complaint with the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability about the incident, which occurred during a protest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday said what happened to Foreman is “unacceptable.” She said she had urged Foreman to file the complaint. In a statement issued through the police board, Foreman described himself as a “victim of police aggression.” He noted that he was not protesting when he was struck.

City restricting downtown and Lake Shore Drive access this weekend

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is vowing to aggressively protect South and West neighborhoods from looting this weekend.

At a news conference Friday night, she said the city is deploying more police and hiring private security companies on commercial corridors, particularly on the South and West sides. Downtown and Lake Shore Drive from Fullerton Avenue to 31st Street will again be sealed off for most car traffic. The 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will remain in place.

This comes after Lightfoot faced criticism for failing to prevent damage last weekend. The mayor said she is responding to requests from elected officials, business owners and ordinary citizens.

“In an effort to prevent the widespread violence and destruction we experienced, we will be devoting additional city resources into our neighborhoods and commercial corridors to ensure their safety,” Lightfoot said.

Grant Park and Union Park will reopen for protesters and others.

Two police officers relieved of power after woman allegedly dragged and knelt on

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said two officers have been relieved of their police powers after the agency that investigates police misconduct recommended they be reassigned. This was after a woman accused them of dragging her out of her car by her hair and kneeling on her.

Mia Wright said officers broke the windows of the car she was in with their batons, causing glass to fly into her eye, and then dragged her out of the car by her hair. She said they called her names and knelt on her. She said she still doesn’t know why she was pulled over, but she’s been charged with disorderly conduct. She and her attorney are demanding that charge be dropped.

The Civilian Office for Police Accountability urged Brown to reassign the officers to desk duty or strip them of their power while the incident is under investigation. A COPA spokesperson said that’s in part to prevent the officers involved from interacting with Chicagoans currently protesting police brutality.

Not all officers involved in Sunday’s incident in the parking lot of Brickyard Mall on the Northwest Side have been identified.

Chicago mayor says police should stay in schools

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is rejecting calls to remove police stationed in Chicago public schools.

At a news conference today, she said the police-in-schools program improved last year when the roles and responsibilities of officers were clarified.

“Unfortunately, we need security in our schools,” Lightfoot said. “I think we have a very good track record of this school year of making sure that CPS is in control, that officers are there for a limited purpose. I think the balance worked well.”

Lightfoot was responding to heightened calls this week to take police out of schools by youth protesting police brutality.

The young people said the school police make them feel less safe and are expensive, costing the school district $33 million this year.