CHICAGO (CBS) — In the wake of the unrest and widespread looting throughout downtown Chicago, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said she too was upset with what she saw, and that her office has worked to prosecute violent offenders. She didn’t have an answer as to what happened.
“I, like many people, are heartbroken angry confused as to how we find ourselves here,” Foxx said. “And the reality is is that as we seek to figure out what is happening and what is truly an unprecedented summer, it requires us to ask tough questions to do deep deliberation, and to put all hands on deck. All hands on deck means that rather than standing and pointing fingers. We work together.”
Foxx referenced the pandemic and economic despair throughout the city. She added that her office has seen a drop in violent crime in recent years, but said this year is different.
“The number one referred prosecution in our office in 2016, the year of 700-plus homicides and 4,000 people shot was drugs and retail theft. And so we’ve worked over the last four years to address that,” Foxx said. I’ll remind you that 2017 violent crime homicide shootings dropped, 2018 violent crime homicides shootings dropped, 2019 homicides violent shootings dropped. And here we are again in 2020, a year, unlike any other.”
Foxx said what happened downtown cannot be connected to the Englewood shooting on Sunday when officers shot and wounded a suspect who was firing at them in Englewood Sunday afternoon, police said. Chicago police said the suspect is a 20-year-old man.
“I want to be abundantly clear this office gave an act of policy related to peaceful protesters back in May and June and the conflation of peaceful protesters and looting continues to this day,” Foxx said. My hope is that we have an honest conversation about that as well,” she said.
Foxx said 29% of the cases in the looting two months ago were felonies charges were filed. She said those cases are being pursued today. Foxx said they were for violent acts regarding two months ago she said different, she said from peaceful protest. All of this now clearly in response to what Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPD Superintended David Brown said Monday morning. Brown said looters overnight acted as if there were no consequences for their behavior.
Lightfoot called on prosecutors to deliver a strong message to the criminals that there will be consequences. When asked if that was criticism directed at the Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, the mayor’s response was “don’t bait us.”
“We are coming for you,” Lightfoot said in a message to the suspects. “This is not anywhere near acceptable.”
Foxx said “we cannot confuse peaceful protesters with what we saw last night last night was not an extension of a peaceful protest. Last night was not an extension of righteous anger. Last night was a blatant display display of criminal behavior. What drove that behavior, how we got there, are questions that we can continue to answer,” Foxx said.
Lightfoot urged the state’s attorneys office and county judges to prosecute the violators to the highest extent of the law. “Put your best people on the case,” she urged. Brown said the people arrested in similar looting earlier in the summer were not met with proper legal consequences.
It was the second time this summer that violence and unrest ravaged businesses in the city.
Chicago businesses reported $66 million worth of damaged or stolen property to police during the looting and unrest after George Floyd’s death in May, according to public records obtained by the CBS 2 Morning Insiders.
Those millions make up one of 1,800 police reports filed for looting or vandalism across the city.
In the wake of that violence, the city promised $10 million in help businesses, and many of those owners were hit again on Monday. Foxx said she understands why Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPD Superintendent David Brown are upset with the events of Sunday night and early Monday morning.
“What I also am saying is that we make our data and we’ll give it to you as clearly and concisely as we can open and available to the public, to be able to examine so that you all can see the charges that are brought to us by CPD and the charges that are filed. And it is my hope that by doing so, I don’t know if there was an intentional completion or not, I don’t know what they know the data to be. We have welcomed from them to be able to compare our data and our notes so that we are ensuring that we’re talking about the same things. I can’t tell you I don’t know what they used to prep for that press conference this morning but what I can tell you is that of the cases that were brought to us, that were presented as what we would classify as looting cases those cases have been charged in our proceedings in court.”
She added “we’re in a weird space. I don’t have a better word than weird. We’re going to look back at 2020 and they’re going to be a lot more questions than answers,” Foxx said. “But it requires us to be thoughtful in our approach. We are hurting. We are frustrated. We are anxious. And what we saw last night, and whatever manifestation that that was, we are rightfully concerned. Our way out of this is working together in the law enforcement community with our community members.”
When asked if she had a message to the storeowners who suffered property damage and loss of merchandise, Foxx said her office does not arrest suspects but prosecutes people once the evidence is brought before her.
“I would never advocate for anyone engaging in what we would call vigilante justice. I think what you have heard from the Chicago police superintendent is that he and his department are working to address how to respond to these issues, how to make themselves ready. I believe that they’ve put together a plan for the next couple of days involving their officers and how they will respond. Our office is not in the arresting business. We get cases once they are brought to us. It is my hope that they will continue to work with community members, store owners and the public to solve for this together. That’s what I have to offer.”