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Downtown Chicago Shut Down: CTA Stopped And Roads Blocked As City Tries To Deter Protesters

Officials closed down CTA service and were using city vehicles — including salt trucks and garbage trucks — to block roads to prevent destruction Downtown.

An officer stands next to Black Lives Matter graffiti as Chicago Police officers guard Trump Tower in River North on May 30, 2020 as protests occurred downtown Chicago for the second day and night in a row following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The Loop and surrounding areas were effectively cut off from the rest of the city most of Sunday, with roads blocked, the bridges raised and train and bus service shut down.

Officials canceled CTA trains and buses throughout a large swath of the city. Bus service was stopped Downtown, between Lincoln Park and Kenwood, and as far west as Western Avenue. Officials were using city vehicles — including salt trucks and garbage trucks — to block roads Downtown and prevent further destruction in the area.

Later Sunday, all bus and train service citywide was shut down.

Stores throughout The Loop and River North were vandalized and broken into Saturday night. At least six people were shot Saturday Downtown, including a 26-year-old man who was killed.

People used largely peaceful protests over the killing of George Floyd as cover to steal and loot, officials said.

The area is now closed to everyone except “employees whose businesses are located within the designated boundaries, individuals who reside in the surrounding area and residents engaged in essential activities,” according to a statement from the Mayor’s Office.

Essential workers will still be able to get into and out of the area for work — though some worried that wouldn’t be possible, anyway, since CTA service they rely on has been cut off.

The Downtown closures:

  • Division Street from Lake Shore Drive and North Halsted Street
  • North Halsted Street from Division Street to Milwaukee Avenue and Grand Avenue
  • Milwaukee Avenue from Grand Avenue to Kinzie Street
  • Canal Street from Kinzie Street to 26th Street
  • 26th Street from Canal Street to Lake Shore Drive

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has also instituted a 9 p.m.-6 a.m. daily curfew and called in the National Guard.

Lightfoot said the city is working with protest organizers to keep them out of Downtown for Sunday — though organizers reached by Block Club Chicago said they hadn’t heard from the city. More protests are expected in the evening.

Lightfoot and other officials said the protests were peaceful and the destruction Downtown came from people who took advantage of the situation to steal and vandalize.

“… For many of us, we witnessed a respectful and peaceful and righteous protest run by organizers, and that was appropriate. It’s outrageous what occurred in Minneapolis,” Ald. Brendan Reilly, whose 42nd Ward includes large portions of the Downtown area, said during a Sunday press conference. “‘Devastation’ is the word I would use to describe most of the streets and frontages Downtown.

“It’s also important to remember that after the peaceful protesters finished and left the area, what remained was rioters and looters. Their only interest was in creating havoc, criminal property damage and theft. This was not — to what I saw and many of my neighbors witnessed — these were not crimes of passion. In many cases they were very carefully thought-out.”

RELATED: As Chicago Cleans Up From Fires And Theft Following Protests, Shop Owners Pick Up The Pieces

Reilly said teams of people used cars or even U-Haul trucks to steal from high-end retail stores and a new Downtown cannabis dispensary was “targeted.”

Nearly every ATM in the area that was outside was removed and cracked open, Reilly said, and nearly every branch bank was vandalized and broken into. Pharmacies were also targeted, he said.

It was “heartbreaking” to see the area’s small businesses damaged, Reilly said, but owners and neighbors headed out in the morning to help with the cleanup.

“From all of this awfulness we’re going through right now, we can find a few rays of hope …,” Reilly said. But, he added, “The entire city must be protected. Looters aren’t just focused on Downtown.”

While CTA travel continues and roads are open in other parts of the city, big stores like Target and Home Depot throughout Chicago have closed down locations for the day.

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