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Protests Continue as Chicago Services Begin to Resume, Lightfoot Announces Reforms and Aid

Zack Miller | The PhoenixProtests throughout the city continued for a fifth day.

The fifth day of protests began in Chicago June 2 as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave a morning press conference on the protests and how the city is moving forward in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While many of the daytime protests have remained peaceful, looting and violence have plagued the nights following the demonstrations. During a press conference June 1, Chicago Police Department (CPD) Superintendent David Brown said 300 arrests were made May 30 after protests brought several thousand demonstrators to the city, with 699 more being made on May 31 with the majority of arrests being for looting.

In an evening address June 2, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke to Chicagoans about how she planned to reform the CPD as well as aid businesses damaged during the looting.

Lightfoot said she had given directions directly to CPD Superintendent David Brown to enact the reforms over the next 90 days. 

The reforms include “better and different” training for police, including mandatory crisis intervention and de-escalation training as well as educating officers on the histories of the neighborhoods they serve.

In addition to the police reforms, Lightfoot announced aid for small businesses damaged in the looting. A $10 million small business relief fund has been set up using city funds, with a focus on businesses on the South and West Side.

Lightfoot also said she would push insurance companies “to do the right thing” by covering the damages inflicted on businesses during the looting.

In the midst of the May 30 looting, Loyola’s School of Communication (SOC) building (51 E. Pearson St.) was broken into, The Phoenix reported

SOC Dean Hong Cheng said all 25 of the studio’s iMac’s, a studio camera and two television monitors were taken from the studio. In a press release June 1, Cheng said the studio would be repaired by the time students were back on campus in August.

During Lightfoot’s morning press conference June 2, she addressed President Donald Trump’s threats to dispatch military forces to cities experiencing violence. Lightfoot said Trump is “a man who liked to bluster” and that she would not let the military enter Chicago.

“That’s not gonna happen,” Lightfoot said. “I will see him in court.”

Brown agreed with the mayor, stating military forces don’t have the same training as police officers and bringing them to Chicago would be “asking for more of the same,” referring to the lack of de-escalation in policing that led to the protests.

“Military [and the] National Guard don’t practice de-escalation or time and distance,” Brown said. “What is the likely outcome when rocks are thrown at the National Guard? … Likely not the patience and restraint our officers utilize.”

Governor J.B. Pritzker dispatched 375 National Guardsmen to the city May 31 after Lightfoot had asked him to, though the airmen are being deployed to help outside of the frontlines due to their different set of skills, according to Lightfoot.

Protests continued throughout the day June 2, with a large group of people marching through Lincoln Park after starting at Wrigley Field (1060 W. Addison St.).

Many of the city’s facilities and programs — such as public transit and school meal programs — that were initially disrupted by the protests have begun to resume, though the drawbridges over the Chicago River remained up June 2 and several other streets remained closed

As of 6 a.m. June 2, public transit had resumed outside of the downtown area. An update on the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) website stated service may be disrupted throughout the day in response to “public activity.”

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) meal distributions also continued June 2 after a one day suspension of in-person services due to “potential transportation and safety challenges for families and staff.” During the suspension, CPS continued to deliver meals to families as previously scheduled.

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