CHICAGO (CBS) — Police said false reports on social media sparked anger and the looting followed.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams has been talking to people who saw how looters organized.
Social media played role. Community leaders said social media posts called for looters to mobilize and to grab tools. And those marching orders were followed Sunday night and Monday morning.
When looters hit Chatham, among other communities nine weeks ago, Bishop James Dukes of the Liberation Christian Center picked a broom and went to work. On Tuesday, he’s dismayed it’s happened again.
“I’m saddened by the fact that we have reached this all time low,” Dukes said.
The looting and destruction early Monday, hours after false social media posts said police had a shot a 15-year-old boy and shot his mother too. The suspect was actually 20. Police said he fired at officers first. His mother was not hurt.
Still, by late Sunday, the erroneous social media posts had spread far, Dukes said.
“They totally ignored the police description of the incident and they start creating the way to use that incident,” Dukes said, “even though there was misinformation for an opportunity to to start looting.”
The shooting had happened in Englewood, where Daryl Bell worked on many community projects. He said people there often don’t trust what they hear from police.
“Nobody’s listening. Nobody’s hearing it,” Bell lamented.
Dukes said he’s talked to multiple people who saw social media posts calling for looters to head downtown, tools in hand.
“‘We’re gonna meet up, you all know what to do.’ That’s code for ‘hey let’s get some U-Hauls, let’s get some tools to break windows. And basically it’s going down tonight,'” Bell said.
“They’re mobilizing for destruction. They’re mobilizing for looting. They’re mobilizing to discredit our community,” Bell said.
“Which shows the level of criminality and planning to do this, because they know that amount of people, 4:00 in the morning,” Dukes said. “How do the police respond to that?”
Dukes fears the looting will continue and will happen over and over, because with so many people doing it, it is hard for people to stop.
Despite the fact that police Supt. David Brown said police were aware of the calls for looting on social media and had deployed 400 officers to places they thought might be hit, the looting still happened and officers appeared to be caught flat-footed. The question has become one of better deployment for the Police Department, and there is also a call for the city and community groups to engage and the business community to invest in neighborhoods that have seen disinvestment.