CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois National Guard is on the ground in Chicago, but not yet activated because of the Derek Chauvin verdict.
The city said it has fine tuned response plans since two major flashpoints last year.READ MORE: Illinois Launches 'Time For Me To Drive' Tourism Campaign As State Prepares To Fully Reopen Next Month
CBS 2’s Chris Tye reports from the Loop where the city has updated its plans, including how included business owners and are preparing for a complicated few days.
It’s a different landscape, and experts said an even more dicey one — than last spring when George Floyd was killed and the unrest in Chicago began.
Since then, the COVID pandemic is a year older and some feel the election was taken from them. Others are simmering over new instances of police brutality. It changes the landscape of how cities need to prepare.
But Chicago has a message according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot:
“We’ve got a very robust plan in place, really honed through our experiences last summer.”
Since last summer, the city has run through live drills and table-top exercises. Experts said these “game out” everything from various crowd sizes to weather patterns to levels of unrest.
“It’s mapping out people, places and things,” said Steven Crimando of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals. “What we anticipate the behavior of the crowds would be and lessons learned and the psychology of the group.”
It’s given way to new policies. Things like when to raise bridges, fly security camera drones and deploy added personnel. This as just on Tuesday:READ MORE: Chicago Bears Single-Game Tickets Go On Sale Wednesday Night
“One hundred twenty-six members of the Illinois National Guard now on the ground in Chicago. Currently “…on standby..” on a “limited mission.” To manage street closures “…much the same role as….previous deployments.”
But experts said much has changed in since the last time the National Guard was called on. Namely, what’s on the mind of protesters and counter protesters.
“(Some are) very charged about their feelings on George Floyd and police brutality. There are people in the other camp who are very supercharged about the election and COVID,” Crimando said.
That doesn’t take into account other groups that use flashpoints to mobilize. For example, the umbrella-shielded attackers who threw projectiles at Chicago police last July.
Groups using the same tactics popped up around the globe in 2020.
“Yes, there are these other opportunists who sweep in and piggyback along,” Crimando said. “But more worrisome for police and authorities are the potential of counter protesters.”
A city that said it is prepared for multiple scenarios has a singular message for anyone considering violence and looting:
“We are ready to arrest and bring to prosecution anyone who will try to destroy the dream of a business owner. Don’t test us. We are ready,” Lightfoot said.
There has been a seven-fold increase in counter protesting this year, along the lines of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha and the insurgents in Washington. The National Guard in the area is not activated, instead on standby but can be mobilized quickly according to the mayor.MORE NEWS: Free Beer With Proof Of COVID Shot