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Two aldermen who represent the River North and Loop neighborhoods are pulling no punches tonight as their wards recover from a devastating wave of looting and riots that ripped the area early Monday.
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) directed most of his fire at Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx while his colleague, Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) demanded a response plan from Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“Our city was devastated by widespread looting and rioting for which our mayor seemed totally unprepared,” Hopkins said in a statement emailed to CWBChicago tonight.
Lightfoot today “stood at a podium and offered nothing but rhetoric and blame, just as she did” after similar riots in May, Hopkins wrote.
He demanded Lightfoot to present “a safety plan that will protect all neighborhoods and small business owners.”
If she can’t produce a plan, Hopkins said, “I am strongly in favor of asking for federal assistance.”
“Our city cannot afford even one more night of rampant and uncontrolled criminal activity,” the alderman concluded. “This has to stop. And it has to stop now.”
Earlier Monday, Lightfoot snapped when a reporter asked about criticisms Hopkins made in a TV news interview.
“Ald. Hopkins has a penchant for letting his mouth run before he actually gets the facts,” Lightfoot said while flapping her hand like a talking mouth.
Meanwhile, Reilly said he was “angry and disgusted” and “absolutely furious,” as he blasted Foxx’s policies time and again.
He called Monday’s’s pillage “a repeat of the looting that occurred in late May: a highly coordinated, professional attack on downtown and neighboring wards – involving caravans of stolen SUVs, cars and U-Haul trucks.”
The looters were “laser-focused on high value targets such as electronics stores, jewelry stores, high-end retail boutiques, branch banks, ATMs, pharmacies and department stores,” Reilly reported. “The looting was initiated using social media channels on the internet and was well-coordinated.”
Reilly, who has represented the ward since unseating a 36-year incumbent in 2007, said he agreed with CPD Supt. David Brown’s opinion that Chicago’s criminals have become emboldened by a lack of consequences for wrong-doing.
“There is no accountability or consequences for the widespread lawlessness in the City of Chicago,” he said as he singled out the state’s attorney and courts for “failing us like never before.”
“Laws are not a ‘buffet’ for prosecutors to selectively enforce,” Reilly continued. “All too often, we are seeing repeat offenders, violent offenders, gun crime suspects and, now looters, being released on [recognizance bonds] or the totally ineffective ‘electronic monitoring program.’ This is totally unacceptable.”
Reilly pointed to a lengthy Chicago Tribune report about Foxx’s’s polices that coincidentally appeared in this morning’s newspaper.
He highlighted a Trib finding that Foxx “dropped all charges against 29.9% of felony defendants a dramatic increase over her predecessor… For the last three years of Anita Alvarez’s tenure, the rate was 19.4%.”
“One explanation for the precipitous drop in prosecutions can be linked to a policy adopted by Foxx in 2016: making the bad decision to treat retail theft as ‘misdemeanor’ crimes, unless the value of stolen items exceed $1,000 or the suspect has 10 prior convictions,” Reilly said. “That leaves far too much wiggle room for habitual, repeat offenders.”
“When there are no consequences for these criminal acts – large or small – it only serves as further incentive for these criminals to repeat these crimes over and over,” the alderman continued.
Reilly also called on CPD to deploy better tools to monitor social media and so-called “dark web” activity where criminals organize.
“I promise to continue to do all I can, in any way, to support the police department, Dep. Chief Daniel O’Shea, our local police commanders and officers who serve downtown,” he concluded. “I will continue to provide updates on city public safety efforts as they become available.”