Reports of looting on Northwest Side has some business owners on edge
by BRIAN NADIG
Concerns about looting and vandalism have led some businesses on the Northwest Side to board up, as the 16th (Jefferson Park) and 17th (Albany Park) District police have been busy responding to a deluge of 911 calls.
Alderman Samantha Nugent (39th) said that officers were able “to hold” the Lawrence-Pulaski commercial area on Sunday night (May 31) as they responded to one problem after another and often succeeded in stopping the criminals.
“It was like whack-a-mole. … The 17th and 16th were on top of it and got things under control,” Nugent said. “The (looters) almost got to Walgreens, … the bank.” She added that a nearby cell phone store was not as lucky.
The calls which local police received Sunday night were nonstop, but there were some pockets of “20-second” silence over the police radio on Monday night, Nugent said. She said that reports of garbage can fires were among the main problems on June 2.
Nugent said that she and state Representative John D’Amico (D-15) had requested that all exit ramps into the city off the Edens and Kennedy expressway be closed to help deter problems but officials rejected that request due to other restrictions already in place. Those include the nighttime stoppage of CTA and Pace bus services (all day in the Loop) and the closure of expressway ramps to the Loop.
In the 41st Ward, Alderman Anthony Napolitano said that the community came together and kept a watchful eye for potential problems.
“Everybody is out protecting, checking on neighbors,” he said. “There were a lot of people out.”
Napolitano said that he drove around the ward for 12 hours each day over the weekend and that “95 percent” of the reported problems in the ward were unfounded, adding that the large police presence served as a deterrent.
“I couldn’t put a number on it,” Napolitano said. “I’ve never seen so many coppers up here in the 16th District.” He said that buses and vans were transporting groups of officers to several business districts in the area.
Napolitano said that the looters and vandals causing havoc in the Chicago area are “opportunists” who are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneed on his neck for about 9 minutes while making an arrest. The officer has been charged in connection with the killing of Floyd.
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) said that 100 additional officers were assigned to the 16th District on May 31. He said that area alderman had made the request over to concerns the widespread looting which occurred in Downtown Chicago on Saturday would spread to city neighborhoods.
Many businesses on the Northwest Side closed early on Sunday following reports of looting at the Brickyard shopping center, 2600 N. Narragansett Ave., where thieves could be seen running out of stores and fleeing in their cars. “It’s not good, (but it) appears CPD is doing everything they can,” a spokesman for Alderman Gilbert Villegas (36th) said on Sunday afternoon.
In the 45th Ward, Alderman Jim Gardiner posted on social media that suspects were arrested in the reported looting of Walgreens, 4001 W. Irving Park Road, and the Columbia Care Illinois marijuana dispensary’s 4758 N. Milwaukee Ave. One of the two suspects in the dispensary incident was arrested after officers found him hiding under a bush in a nearby residential yard.
There had been reports that due to the unrest Mayor Lori Lightfoot was considering whether to delay the city’s plans to move into its Phase 3 reopening phase, which allows hair salons and outdoor cafes to open, but it will occur as planned on Wednesday, June 3.
However, the reopening will take place against a backdrop of a possible city curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. that could continue for days and boarded up buildings that can be seen in many Northwest Side neighborhoods.
As a precaution, several bar, restaurant and liquor store owners have boarded up their businesses. The City of Chicago provided a list of board-up companies to chambers of commerce in the event that their members were looking to protect their business.
Normally the city frowns on board-up businesses, but the city is allowing it “considering what is occurring in our city,” Gardiner said in a “public service announcement” which he e-mailed to constituents.
On Saturday night, the Northwest Side Coalition Against Racism and Hate held a “Justice for George Floyd Caravan” in which participants drove along Nagle Avenue and Northwest Highway in the Norwood Park area.