CHICAGO Mayor Lori Lightfoot said a night of chaos and looting that took place in the Windy City this week was a "planned attack" rather than a reaction to an officer-involved shooting.
On Sunday night into the early hours of Monday morning, businesses in downtown Chicago were subject to theft, vandalism and destruction in what Lightfoot is now calling "organized criminal activity."
"When people showed up on Michigan Avenue in the downtown area with U-Haul trucks and cargo vans and sophisticated equipment used to cut metal, and the methods that were used, and how quickly it got spun up… that wasn't any spontaneous reaction," Lightfoot told TIME.
The unrest was initially blamed on an officer-involved shooting in the city’s southside Englewood neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. Rumors began swirling that the individual who was shot by police was a minor, though law enforcement later identified the person was 20-year-old Latrell Allen.
Officers claim Allen, who is currently recovering from the gunshot wounds, shot at them first.
Lightfoot acknowledged that some protesters may have been there for otherreasons, but the looting, she said, was a calculated attack.
"To be sure, there are people that did join in that were motivated by lots of different reasons, and certainly were motivated by social media posts encouraging people to come downtown," she said.
"But the core of what happened – that's organized criminal activity … It was a planned attack."
The mayor added that the looters seemed to know that police would be lightly staffed between the hours of midnight and 3am Monday, so they picked "the moments where they feel like they have the best opportunity to make a move."
A law enforcement task force has been put together to try and identify ringleaders who may have organized the looting attacks, the mayor said.
"We're still going through lots and lots of video tape," Lightfoot told TIME. "But people were able to fairly quickly take out cash registers, ATM machines, cut through metal grate, and to get beyond and behind security systems that are pretty sophisticated."
"That's not your average looter," she added.
Some of the businesses hit during this week's attack were also targeted just weeks earlier during unrest that erupted in cities across the US after the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis, according to TIME.
In a Monday press conference, Lightfoot warned offenders, "We are coming for you."
The mayor said there is "no justification" for the type of criminal behavior that erupted in the city this week, and that people "have no right to take a destroy the property of others."
Like many cities across the US in recent months, Chicago has seen a troubling influx in violent crime.
Last month, 573 people were shot in the city – including 58 juveniles, according to TIME.
There were 430 homicides in Chicago recorded in July – a 51 percent increase from the same month last year.
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