CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker has issued a disaster proclamation for Cook County due to looting and vandalism in Chicago and its suburbs.
Pritzker said the proclamation, issued Monday in Cook County and eight other counties, will allow the state more flexibility as officials try to help Chicago and other cities respond to widespread vandalism.
The governor already sent 375 National Guard soldiers to Chicago to help local police enforce street closures around the city. Now, he’s called up another 250 members of the Guard to help other cities and counties in Illinois.
And Pritzker asked the Illinois State Police to provide another 300 officers to help local law enforcement agencies around the state Monday night into Tuesday. Already, 100 State Police officers have been helping local Chicago Police.
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“It is difficult to put into words the damage that has happened to our communities over the weekend,” Pritzker said during a Monday press conference. “The pain will fall disproportionately on the backs of our small business owners, our working families and our communities of color. And it has to stop. We have to take care of our people.”
The National Guard soldiers and state police in Chicago will continue to provide support to officers. They have orders not to interfere with peaceful protesters, Pritzker said, and are supposed to merely help with checkpoints.
“We were asked to play a limited role and did so at the request of the city of Chicago,” Pritzker said. “I think it’s an appropriate request, by the way.”
Earlier in the day, Supt. David Brown said the city would not have soldiers patrol with local police despite some calls for aldermen to increase the presence of soldiers in residential neighborhoods.
Pritzker said he’s concerned other politicians will use the looting in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois to delegitimize the “pain and anguish and sorrow” of actual, peaceful protesters, who have been mourning the killing of George Floyd. Floyd was a Black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis.
“We cannot allow those who have taken advantage of this moment to loot and smash to also steal the voices of those expressing a need for real, meaningful change,” Pritzker said. “That will not be our story here in Chicago. Because this anger doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s borne of decades and centuries of systemic racism and injustice.”
Pritzker also criticized President Donald Trump, saying his words had “[fanned] the flames” and led to more anger around the country.
“We live in some extraordinary and difficult moments now. … What I can say is this has something to do about leadership in the nation,” Pritzker said. “When you don’t have national leaders bringing down the temperature in situations like this, it tends to the fan the flames.
“Look at the words the president has put out on Twitter … . He talks about ‘total domination.’ I don’t want to dominate peaceful protesters [who have grievances]. To me, this is an extraordinarily unusual [time] and, having said that, we will meet the challenge. And we have the capability to meet the challenge. The people of Illinois have the capability. Again, I would ask for people to step up and call for calm and peace in our streets.”
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