LOGAN SQUARE — Logan Square was “much calmer” Monday night after a weekend of theft and vandalism, according to local leaders.
Several Logan Square businesses were hit in the citywide vandalism spree Sunday night, including three retailers at the busy intersection of Milwaukee, Kimball and Diversey avenues: The AT&T store, the Gap outlet and the Foot Locker. A few other businesses, including the Megamall Target, which has not opened yet, also were ransacked.
But despite rumors circulating on social media, Logan Square wasn’t as affected as other neighborhoods, local leaders said.
Jessica Wobbekind, executive director for the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce, said fewer than 10 Logan Square businesses were broken into. She said many shop owners proactively boarded up their businesses.
“I don’t think the damage was nearly as bad as it looks with all of the boards up,” Wobbekind said.
By comparison, neighboring Wicker Park and West Town saw 40 to 60 of its businesses ransacked.
For several days, Chicagoans have staged peaceful demonstrations protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But separate groups of people have used the protests as an opportunity to steal, smash store windows and burn down buildings in neighborhoods across Chicago, according to officials.
The theft and destruction spilled out into Logan Square and other neighborhoods after city officials shut down the Downtown area to contain the large protests.
Ald. Carlos Ramirez–Rosa said people targeted cell phone stores, pawn shops, and, to a lesser extent, liquor stores in the 35th Ward, which includes a portion of Logan Square, as well as parts of Avondale, Hermosa, Albany Park and Irving Park.
According to Ramirez-Rosa, at least 18 businesses were damaged in the 35th Ward, which accounts for less than three percent of the businesses in the ward, based on a review of business licenses.
“When you compare [the damage in the 35th Ward] to other neighborhoods across the city, the 35th Ward actually has been spared,” Ramirez-Rosa said, adding that the South and West sides were hit the hardest.
Ramirez-Rosa said Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s decision to close off the Downtown area contributed to the vandalism in the neighborhoods.
“Those businesses Downtown have good insurance, good lawyers that can make sure their claim is fulfilled, money on hand to be able to deal with this. Unfortunately, so many of our small business owners don’t have the ability to recover,” he said.
Ramirez-Rosa added that one business owner in his ward, who stood guard into the “wee hours” Monday and Tuesday, told him, “If I get vandalized, if I get damaged, that’s it for me.”
“That really confirmed for me the sense that I had been feeling,” Ramirez-Rosa said. “This is a disservice to our neighborhoods to protect Downtown at the expense of small business owners that are struggling right now.”
Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st) led a neighborhood cleanup Monday afternoon to help rebuild his ward after the weekend of vandalism and theft. The 1st Ward includes parts of Logan Square, Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, Humboldt Park and West Town.
“I’d say Wicker Park was hit worse, at least worst than the stretches of Logan Square I represent,” La Spata said.
Both La Spata and Ramirez-Rosa said they surveyed Logan Square, along with other parts of their wards, Monday morning and did not find any new visible damage. La Spata said his team only found new graffiti which they reported to authorities.
Wobbekind said she credits locals like prolific restaurateur Esam Hani, who stood guard on Milwaukee Avenue for hours, for protecting Logan Square’s businesses at the height of the vandalism spree.
Logan Square business owners whose shops suffered damage should reach out to the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce for assistance.
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