Chicago's looting spree was 'a planned attack,' Mayor Lightfoot says

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Sunday’s looting was ‘planned attack’

Chicago police ask the public to help identify suspected looters; Garrett Tenney reports.

The recent looting of downtown Chicago was “organized criminal activity,” with people planning ahead enough to bring U-Haul vans and equipment to help them ransack stores, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

The hundreds of looters – described by officials as “car caravans” full – who made their way into Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, Gold Coast and Irving North neighborhoods on Sunday night into Monday morning were part of “a planned attack,” Lightfoot told TIME for an interview that published Wednesday.

“When people showed up on Michigan Avenue in the downtown area with U-Haul trucks and cargo vans, and sophisticated equipment used to cut metal, and the methods that were used, and how quickly it got spun up,” Lightfoot told the outlet, “that wasn’t any spontaneous reaction.”

More than 100 people have been arrested so far as a result of the looting spree. Police said at a Monday press conference that officials believe the events were spurred by a police-involved shooting in Englewood earlier in the day.

At the scene of the Englewood shooting, "tempers flared fueled by misinformation as the afternoon turned into the evening," said Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown at the time. The false information included that a child was shot, and that the wounded man was on the ground when police fired upon him, according to multiple previous reports.

Police later discovered social media posts that encouraged looting downtown, officials said Monday.

“To be sure, there are people that did join in that were motivated by lots of different reasons, and certainly were motivated by social media posts encouraging people to come downtown,” Lightfoot told TIME. “But the core of what happened — that’s organized criminal activity… It was a planned attack.”

Earlier this week, a U-Haul spokesperson told Fox News the company’s equipment is designed and intended for people to use during residential moves. The company is now working with authorities.

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“Customers utilizing our equipment are expected [to] adhere to local, state and federal laws. Any violation of these laws is also a violation of the customer contract and our policies,” the spokesperson said in an email. “U-Haul employs a robust investigations unit that works closely with law enforcement to see that individuals engaged in criminal activity involving our equipment are captured and brought to justice.”

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