Black Lives Matter protesters endorsed widespread looting in Chicago at a rally on Monday, with one local organizer describing the destruction as “reparations.”
The moment: Ariel Atkins made the comments while attending the demonstration outside Chicago’s District 1 police station in the South Loop neighborhood.
- The event was meant to show solidarity with some 100 people who were jailed, many inside the station, on looting charges stemming from the rampage, which took place early that morning.
Atkins said the looting of designer clothing chains was justified by necessity and history.
- “I don’t care if somebody decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike because that makes sure that that person eats. That makes sure that that person has clothes,” she said.
- “That’s reparations. Anything they want to take, take it because these businesses have insurance.”
Standing in front of a banner that read, “Our futures have been looted from us … Loot back,” Atkins also slammed black leader Jesse Jackson for calling the Chicago looting spree “humiliating, embarrassing, and morally wrong.”
- “Jesse Jackson has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter. Jesse Jackson was not there for the creation of Black Lives Matter. Jesse Jackson can keep his opinions to himself,” she said.
Black Lives Matter Chicago echoed Atkins in a statement Monday, saying: “These corporations have ‘looted’ more from our communities than a few protesters ever could, yet the Mayor reserves her anger for the latter.”
- Many on the left have downplayed or defended the role of violence in nationwide racial justice protests led by Black Lives Matter.
- Meanwhile, demands for reparations for black and other non-white Americans have gained growing support, including from prominent Democrats like presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.
The looting in Chicago took place in a commercial district known as the Magnificent Mile, injuring 13 police officers, according to the department.
- It started after a false rumor spread that Chicago police had shot and killed child.
- According to police, officers returned fire at a 20-year-old suspect they were pursuing and wounded him.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, condemned the looters during a Monday press conference.
- “This is not legitimate First Amendment-protected speech. These were not poor people engaging in petty theft to feed themselves and their families. This was straight up felony, criminal conduct,” she said.