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Loyola Water Tower Campus Damaged Amid Protests Downtown

Three buildings on Loyola’s Water Tower Campus, which is situated off North Michigan Avenue, were among the places with shattered windows and signs of break-ins amid protests in Chicago May 30. 

The university’s School of Communication (SOC) building (51 E. Pearson St.), which houses a broadcast studio filled with computers and cameras, was broken into May 30. SOC Dean Hong Cheng said all 25 of the studio’s iMac computers were taken, along with one out of three studio cameras and two television monitors. It’s unclear what time the break-in occurred. 

Cheng said the SOC staff still has to look further into the damage in order to determine everything that might have been taken. In the meantime, equipment still remaining in the SOC studio and equipment in the radio station in Baumhart Hall (26 E. Pearson St.) across the street has been moved to a secure location, Cheng said. 

Campus Safety Police Chief didn’t immediately reply to request for comment. In an email late Sunday night, Campus Safety notified students and faculty that Water Tower Campus would remain closed through June 1 based on “guidance of the Chicago Police Department.” The email also states Loyola’s Campus Safety is “closely monitoring” the situation. 

Jim Collins, who manages and runs the TV studio in the SOC, said it will take a lot of money and work to replace the items lost from the studio. 

“I was horrified,” Collins said. “It made me angry, disappointed and sad all at the same time.”

Windows at Loyola’s Corboy Law Center (25 E. Pearson St.) and Lu’s Deli (26 E. Pearson St.) were also shattered, however the university isn’t aware of any burglary at either of these buildings, according to Loyola spokesperson Anna Rozenich.

People took to the streets of downtown Chicago yesterday to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department, as well as a pattern of several other police killings of unarmed black Americans, The Phoenix reported

Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney sent out an email May 31 calling the university to action against “the scourge of white supremacy,” as she asks experts across the university’s schools to work together to offer “concrete solutions to making change happen.”

“Once again American society is witnessing outrage over the systemic racism that has led to the murders of women and men of color in the past weeks,” Rooney wrote in the email. “The response understandably has been anger and fierce opposition to those who have betrayed their charge of upholding the law and protecting people by abusing their power and committing these heinous crimes of violence.”

Rooney didn’t address any of the damage to the university in her email.

Cheng said the SOC remains committed to advocating for Jesuit values, social and racial justice and first amendment rights in an email to SOC students May 31. 

Ariel — a Black Lives Matter Chicago organizer who only identified herself by her first name at the protest and online — said in a statement prior to May 30th’s official protest that the Black Lives Matter organizers “do not intend for this protest to be violent,” The Phoenix reported

Sneha Bhatt and Yogesh Chavda, residents of the area where WTC is located, said they think peaceful protestors and those damaging buildings weren’t the same people. 

“I don’t think it’s the protestors doing the damage, it’s rioters and looters,” Bhatt, 46, said. “We were able to see it wasn’t the protestors, it was people with very nice luxury cars that were doing the looting and the rioting.”

“It makes me really sad,” Chavda, 52, said. “People are protesting for the right reasons but the people who are damaging everything are not helping the cause at all.”

Loyola officials closed the WTC buildings May 31, with only essential personnel and Baumhart Hall residents having access to them, according to an email from Campus Safety and Facilities, the department in charge of security and buildings on campus.

In an email late Sunday night, Campus Safety notified students that Water Tower Campus would remain closed through June 1 based on “guidance of the Chicago Police Department.” The email also states Loyola’s Campus Safety is “closely monitoring” the situation.  

Other businesses around the campus also sustained damage. The Bentley Gold Coast dealership (834 N. Rush St.), a 7/11 convenience store (45 E. Chicago Ave.) and a currency exchange (62 E. Chicago Ave.) all had shattered windows.

Trucks holding plywood were scattered throughout the streets near campus as businesses boarded up their windows. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot put a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in place for the city May 31 following the events during the evening of May 30, The Phoenix reported

In a press conference May 31, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said more precautions will be put in place to protect storefronts Sunday night. The city has enlisted the help of the national guard, all bus and train service in and out of downtown will be suspended, and city salt, garbage and water trucks will block access to the central business district. 

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