DOWNTOWN — Chicago Police were overwhelmed this weekend as people called 911 by the thousands in response to looting, vandalism and shootings across the city — but city leaders urged residents to remain calm.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said 699 people were arrested Sunday, primarily for looting. Of those arrests, 461 took place on the South and West sides, Brown said. Police officers found 64 guns during the course of those arrests, he said.
Aside from the property damage, the city saw its most violent weekend of the year. There were 48 shootings and 17 people killed on Sunday alone, Brown said, adding that 132 officers were also injured.
“The Police Separtment was responding to these calls as best they could with a significant amount of additional resources on the South and the West sides,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said during a Monday press conference. “The challenge was it was everywhere. Everywhere.
“So if we had a police department three times the size it would have been difficult to keep up with the calls for service yesterday. Now, I know that’s cold comfort, but I want to be clear that we didn’t stand by and let the South and the West side burn as, unfortunately, some people are propagating. That’s just not true.”
The city’s 911 dispatchers fielded 65,000 calls for service Sunday — at times getting 1,000-2,000 calls every 30 minutes, Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot urged people to keep calling 911 — and not open fire on people.
“Obviously we’re aware of the fact that Illinois is a concealed carry state,” Lightfoot said. “Do not take matters into your own hands. Call the police.
“We’ve seen tragedy happen in this country, and recently, when people felt like they could take matters into their own hands. … Let me remind you of the killing of Mr. [Ahamud] Arbery. Do not pick up arms and try to be the police. If there’s a problem, call 911. We will respond. But I urge people to show restraint and do not take matters into your own hands.”
The city is keeping police on patrol throughout residential neighborhoods and city workers are pouring into business-heavy corridors to start fixing the damage.
Police officers will continue to work 12-hour shifts, patrolling neighborhoods and arresting people for vandalism and theft, Brown said. The Illinois National Guard still has soldiers surrounding the Downtown area and limiting who can go into the Loop and River North.
“We’re concerned about safety everywhere. Everywhere,” Lightfoot said. “And there are people, unfortunately, who are roving the city trying to find soft spots that they can exploit. I know that firsthand. And we’re gonna meet that challenge.”
Brown said the city would continue to focus on using police, rather than National Guard soldiers, to patrol in residential neighborhoods and work with residents.
“We built the community trust and it’s fragile,” Brown said. “We don’t want to take it for granted.”
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