Chicago Mayor Lightfoot announces extra safety measures ahead of 2nd weekend of protests

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With a number of protests planned in Chicago Friday night through the weekend, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced extra measures to protect demonstrators and businesses.

Lightfoot said the city is opening Grant Park and Union Park to make more space for peaceful rallies.

"We want to make sure you have the space to lift your voices and make yourselves heard," Lightfoot said.

More than 300 trucks from city departments will be placed in 175 commercial corridors, Lightfoot said. The trucks will provide strategic traffic support to help protect businesses, particularly on the South and West Sides.

Traffic will be reduced in the Loop to free up officers to patrol other areas of the city.

Chicago is also partnering with security providers to be another set of eyes.

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced new measures to protect protesters and businesses on Friday.



Lightfoot told businesses owners to text CHIBIZ to 67283 or visit www.chicago.gov/chibizalerts to sign up for new targeted emergency alerts for the business community.

Lightfoot warned that the curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. remains in effect.

"We will not tolerate those who would seek to use planned, peaceful protests to commit crime and cause destruction," CPD Supt. David Brown said.

Many businesses remain boarded up, a sign that there are still concerns that looting could happen this weekend.

At Town and Country Liquors in Brighton Park, the store's owner, George Patras, is bracing for the unknown.

Last Sunday, would-be looters smashed out his front door but were chased off by neighbors. He's since hired security guards.

"I'm not being complacent. We are still staying on premise in our store, 24 hours a day," Patras said. "I'm still frightful of things happening."

Bronzeville resident Kim Bell witnessed looting at local grocery stores.

"I watched them loot Mariano's. I watched them break in those windows," Bell said. "I drove down and watched them break in the windows in Jewel and watched them loot for 12 to 15 hours and never saw a police officer."

RELATED: Local Market grocery store in South Shore reopens after residents keep looters out

After widespread looting in the neighborhoods last weekend, Lightfoot said she's hoping for a different result this time around.

"Well, there will be more protests, we know that, and I expect them to be peaceful," the mayor said. "We are taking all the steps that are necessary to protect our neighborhoods to be visible in high-commercial areas."

Lightfoot also responded to reports of people walking around the Bridgeport neighborhood with bats after a peaceful protest Wednesday night. The mayor said the so-called "vigilantes" will not be tolerated in Chicago.

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"It is absolutely not appropriate for people to take up arms, bats, pipes- whatever, and patrolling neighborhoods."



"It is absolutely not appropriate for people to take up arms, bats, pipes - whatever, and patrolling neighborhoods," Lightfoot said. "We've seen that end with tragic results across the country, and we're not about to allow that practice to happen here in Chicago."

The mayor said if there is an issue, people should call 911.

She said she wants to make sure police have the resources they need, but warned that officers must take precautions to protect against COVID-19.

"If officers are not complying, if they are not wearing the mask and protective gear that we provide, then they need to be disciplined," she said.

Ald. Ray Lopez saw dozens of businesses in his ward or nearby damaged and looted, with many still boarded up.

He's hoping that there will be enough police out this weekend, and that there will continue to be a waning of the criminal element that has frequently co-opted peaceful protests.

"We want people to be able to exercise their rights, but we want to make sure we don't have the same agitators coming back, thinking we've let our guard down, thinking that we believe the worst is behind us," Lopez said.

The curfew in Chicago, which runs from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m., remains in effect.

Lightfoot said what happens this weekend will go a long way in determining when that might get lifted.

As Chicago slowly reopens against the backdrop of this week's events, the focus of Lightfoot's Recovery Task Force has changed.

"A lot of the problems that have been identified, we have already identified but they've become of greater importance," said Recovery Task Force Co-Chairman Sam Skinner.

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Recovery Task Force Co-Chairman Sam Skinner said the first priority is getting businesses back open, especially in minority neighborhoods.



Helping South and West Side neighborhoods will now be a major part of the task force.

"I was in White House in '92 with California and Rodney King, I know communities can recover, but it's going to take a concerted effort, you can't take your eye off the ball." said Skinner, a former U.S. attorney and White House chief of staff.

Skinner said the first priority is getting businesses back open, especially in minority neighborhoods.

"The smaller businesses are going to need financial help," Skinner said. "The mayor has set up a fund to do that and we are going to raise some private money."

He said the task force will offer long-term solutions for health services, education and job trianing.

"About one-third of construction workers are older and retiring and those jobs will be filled," he said. "We want to make sure people on the South and West Sides are trained for these construction jobs."
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