Neighborhoods under siege need National Guard protection, aldermen plead

Neighborhoods under siege need National Guard protection, aldermen plead

Red Star Liquor owner Esam Hani parked this van in front of his store to prevent looting and is also hung out on the block Sunday night to keep watch on businesses in the Logan Square neighborhood. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Ald. Ray Lopez said he warned the mayor communities were at risk, and “she said I was full of s – – t for saying that all she cared about was downtown. … I told her, `F – – k you. You don’t know what’s going on. You need to come out from wherever you’re hiding and see what’s going on in the neighborhoods.’

Chicago needs 3,000 National Guardsmen — not 375 — to protect neighborhoods under siege from looters, a handful of aldermen said Monday.

Aldermen Brian Hopkins (2nd), Anthony Beale (9th) and Ray Lopez (15th) made the request, arguing that the deployment of 375 National Guard troops to seal off the perimeter of the downtown area had left South and West Side neighborhoods unprotected.

At a Monday morning press conference, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said police had been redeployed to the South and West sides Sunday.

“There is no way – no way – that we would ever let any neighborhood” go unprotected in favor of any other, Lightfoot said.

Lopez and Beale, among Lightfoot’s most outspoken City Council critics, clearly felt that was not enough.

During a Sunday morning Zoom conference calls between the mayor and Chicago aldermen, Lopez said he asked Lightfoot directly what her plan was to protect the neighborhoods after sealing off a downtown area devastated by looting, vandalism and arsons on Saturday night.

According to Lopez, the mayor responded that she had a plan for every neighborhood.

“I said, `I head on the scanners that we have hundreds of people, caravans, driving in from Indiana and other places to come and terrorize our city,’ “ Lopez said.

“She rebuffed that. Disregarded me again. She said, `I’m dealing with issues. That’s an unsubstantiated rumor. You can chase that if you want, Ray.’ “

By Sunday night, Lopez said neighborhoods were in chaos. His warnings about a “coordinated attempt to destabilize our city” turned out to be right.

On a second Zoom conference call between the mayor and City Council, Lopez said several aldermen were “in tears” about the damage done to their communities.

“I asked her point-blank. I said, `I told you this was gonna happen in the morning. I warned you. What is our plan for the neighborhoods? How are we gonna stabilize the communities? We need a five-day plan. The assumption that this is all gonna go away because you’ve got a curfew is wrong. We need to stabilize the communities. I want an answer,’ “ Lopez recalled.

“When I was finished, she basically said, `Okay. Next’ and tried to move onto the next alderman without answering me. At which point, I interrupted and said, `No. I demand an answer. I want to know what your plan is.’ At which point, she said I was full of s – – t for saying that all she cared about was downtown and that she wasn’t prepared and that there’s nothing she could say intellectually that would make sense to me.’ “

Lopez said he “wasn’t having it.” He answered profanity with profanity.

“I told her, `F – – k you. You don’t know what’s going on. You need to come out from wherever you’re hiding and see what’s going on in the neighborhoods.’ I said, `You need to check your f—-ing attitude. That’s not what this is about right now. … That just underscores and totally proves the fact that she had no plan for the neighborhoods.”

Beale said the 3,000 National Guard troops are needed, in part, to protect what he called the “gem” of a Wal-Mart in Pullman.

“It is one of the last stores available that was not looted where people can go can food and prescription drugs. We need to protect that store at all costs,” Beale said.

“All of the other stores in my ward have been looted along Michigan Avenue and 103rd. There’s nothing else available where people can go and get anything except for that store. We need to protect it at all costs.”

Beale said the only reason the Walmart has been spared so far is because he worked with Chicago Police to close off all access on Woodlawn from 103rd to 111th.

West Side Ald. Jason Ervin (28th), chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus, agreed “additional resources” are needed from the National Guard to restore order to Chicago neighborhoods.

“Totally closing off the Gold Coast and downtown to access — people in our communities felt as if they were not as important as downtown and the Gold Coast. That fueled a lot of the anger and a lot of the challenges and concerns that people have,” Ervin said.

“When the decision was made, it may have made some sense. But after the fact, it seems like it fueled peoples’ anger and angst about what was going on. This is one city. Everybody deserves the same level of protection as anybody else. Some people feel protected and others don’t feel protected.”

Pressed on whether the city had a plan to protect Chicago neighborhoods, Ervin said, “I don’t know what they had. But whatever they had, it didn’t work.”

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