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Officer-Involved Shooting Sparks Riots in Chicago

George Floyd Protest in Chicago Date: May 30 2019 Source: WGN News Youtube Screenshot

The unrest and riots in Chicago took place early Monday morning

After a heated confrontation with police over a Sunday afternoon officer-involved shooting, an uprising of riots and looting erupted early Monday morning.

Chicago police shot and wounded a man in his late teens or early twenties after a call about a man with a gun in the area, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The shooting set off a tense standoff between community members and dozens of police officers. Protesters were able to pressure the police officers into leaving the area.

After the standoff and other protests, widespread looting and hit the city with videos of looting being widely shared on social media.

High-end retailers were broken into and items were stolen from the Magnificent Mile, the city’s downtown shopping district.

The tension in Chicago is off the back of nationwide anti-racist protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hand of Minneapolis police and many other incidences of police violence.

Chicago has also been the subject of increasingly tough rhetoric from President Trump and Republicans, culminating in Operation Legend, which has seen federal officers deployed to Chicago and other cities.


Chicago police insist that a misunderstanding about the age of the man shot led to the riots on Monday morning. The police department said many believed the suspect was a minor, but they reported he was in his late teens to early twenties, without releasing his specific age.

There has been concern about the increased rate of homicide in Chicago with the first six months of 2020 seeing a 34% increase from the same period in 2019.

The police department has been under increased scrutiny for a long history of police-involved killings with little information provided about each case. In 2016, the Chicago Tribune found that on average a Chicago police officer kills someone every five days.

2018 reporting from The Intercept also found that while 95% of Chicago’s police force did not fire a gun from 2004 to 2016, only 130 officers accounted for 29% of police shootings.

Chicago Police communications director Tom Ahern said there was another police-involved shooting during the riots after citizens fired shots at the police. No officers were injured in the incident.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been under fire from multiple sides for her handling of protests in the city. Many on the right, including President Trump, have criticized Lightfoot and other Democratic mayors for not acting swiftly enough, while many protesters argue Lightfoot has allowed the police department to use violence against protests.

Political Lightning Rod

Chicago has become a political lightning rod in recent years, and it has been thrust back into the news by the recent riots and President Trump’s focus on violence in the city. Trump’s focus on Chicago is not new, but the growing popularity nationwide of movements like Black Lives Matter has reinvigorated the right’s focus in Chicago.

Fox News often covers Chicago and was one of the first major media platforms to cover the latest unrest. They characterized the event as Chicago being “rocked” by looting.

On social media, right-wing journalists like Andy Ngo and Ian Miles Cheong help shape the narrative around the riots with highly-shared posts and videos.

Ngo has previously been criticized for collaborating with right-wing groups in exchange for favorable coverage during altercations with Antifa. He has also faced accusations of creating fake profiles online to push his message.

Ngo has been regularly deployed by the right-wing press and Republican politicians to characterize Antifa as a terrorist organization. Ngo even appeared at a Senate hearing to discuss Antifa.

Similar to his message on Antifa, Ngo and other right-wing personalities have characterized the latest events in Chicago as “BLM-inspired mass looting”.

Thus far, there is no clear indication that any of the looting was coordinated by any specific group.

Alec Pronk

Alec is a freelance writer with an interest in both geopolitics and American domestic issues. He finished his Master's degree with a critical focus on government counterterrorism policies.

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