Chicago police unveil weekend safety preparations after downtown emergency drill, as some businesses board up

Chicago protests planned this weekend

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Friday, August 28, 2020
Chicago police unveil weekend safety preparations after downtown emergency drill, as some businesses board up
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Chicago police say they're hoping for the best, but they're prepared if protests expected in the city this weekend turn violent.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police officials unveiled this weekend's safety preparations during an event on the West Side Friday morning.

CPD Superintendent David Brown also called for unity, as police join local businesses and community members in an Operation Clean event.

Police have said they are prepared for several planned demonstrations.

Many businesses along the Mag Mile have boarded up in anticipation of protests this weekend.

RELATED: Chicago police, protesters clash in Loop, dozens arrested and several hurt

Bob Judelson's building secured its lobby as some downtown residents flirt with the idea of moving.

"I don't feel that way," Judelson said. "I don't wanna be forced out. I didn't do anything wrong and it hasn't occurred to me to try to sell."

Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said he's hoping for the best and preparing for the worst this weekend.

A Black Lives Matter march is set for Saturday, which aims to shut down the Mag Mile.

"We are hoping for a peaceful protest and we're preparing if agitators come in and wanna do something different," Superintendent Brown said.

In the Gold Coast, concrete barriers are positioned at key intersections, just some of the resources deployed by the city during a downtown safety drill conducted Thursday night

Police hope to rapidly block traffic in-and-out of retail areas to cut off of car caravans by looters if trouble should break out.

"But when also when you cross the line and meet out violence and start attacking or destroying persons and property, that we will take swift enforcement action," Brown said.

Police said they want to ensure people's right to protest but violence won't be tolerated.

RELATED: Chicago police, protesters clash in Loop, dozens arrested and several hurt

"So we've spun up our ability to protect ourselves with helmets and rock and bottle shields because people have thrown things at us and we've also created our arrest teams," he said.

The drill came after city officials assured business leaders on a conference call that a plan is in place to guard against future looting, but some business owners remain skeptical.

"I'm glad to see that they're now taking it seriously, and they're starting to deploy resources to address the issue," said Scott Shapiro. He owns the Syd Jerome clothing store in the Loop that was hit by both rounds of looting. His store windows are still covered up.

The downtown-wide drill took place in the area bound by Division Street on the north, 18th Street on the south, Clark Street on the west and Lake Shore Drive on the east.

Though officials won't tip their hand, multiple Gold Coast business owners told ABC7 that they were told the drill, in part, involved coordination of pre-positioned police and city vehicles to rapidly block traffic in and out of retail areas, perhaps in response to the use of car caravans by looters.

Alderman Brian Hopkins said after two rounds of looting this summer, the city has improved its response with support from state and federal agencies.

"We are prepared, unlike the weekend of August 10, when we were completely caught off guard," Hopkins said. "Now there's training in place, and the officers in the field will know exactly what to do instead of scrambling in a chaotic environment which is what recently happened."

The city said the drill had been planned for weeks and is not in response to the events in Kenosha or this Saturday's Black Lives Matter march and rally, which aims to shut down the Mag Mile.

But stores like Canada Goose off the Mag Mile are preparing regardless, especially in light of the protests and riots in Kenosha.

Joe Downey with Crane Construction, boarded up the luxury outerwear shop that remains empty. Downey said the city hasn't been prepared.

"In my opinion, they let it go too long," he said.

Gold Coast Bentley had damage and looting, and they think the drill will help.

"I think it's good for the people with the businesses," said George Chiarelli of Gold Coast Bentley. "We need police protection. We need police action."

Adam Skaf, spokesman for the Magnificent Mile Association, agreed.

"If something goes awry this weekend, it could spell disaster for some downtown businesses," he said.