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(Above) Riot damage to theWit hotel at State & Lake Streets in the Loop. Photo provided by Chicago Loop Alliance. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

Loop, River North, Streeterville hit hard by protests that turned violent.

3-Jun-20 – Of the hundreds of businesses in Chicago damaged during protests that turned violent last Friday and Saturday, at least 45 were in the Loop. Chicago Loop Alliance says the cost to repair and replace merchandise is in the millions of dollars.

Hardest hit were the Loop, River North, and Streeterville, part of a downtown area that was preparing for a cautious reopening on Wednesday after being closed since March – either partially or completely – due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo by Holly Lipschultz

“It is a difficult time for so many reasons,” said Michael Edwards, president and CEO of Chicago Loop Alliance. “We understand the frustration behind this weekend’s protests and the complicated nature of these types of events.”

Edwards says his organization will continue providing security patrols and its Chicago Loop Ambassadors will continue cleaning State Street and assisting visitors.

(Left) Damage to the inside of a 7-Eleven at 45 East Chicago Avenue. Photo by Holly Lipschultz.

Much of the damage in the Loop was along Wabash Avenue, where 19 businesses were vandalized, including Central Camera, which has been at its current location at 230 South Wabash Avenue since 1929.

On State Street, 15 businesses were vandalized.

Wabash Avenue businesses vandalized:

2Twenty2 Tavern, 418 South Wabash, 7-Eleven, America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Ann Taylor, BeeZzee Fresh Food, Central Camera, Chase Bank, Chicago Jewelry Mall, Chicago’s Finest Beef and Brew, Corner Bakery, Exchequer Restaurant & Pub, Fiancee Jewelry, Flax Art & Frame, McDonald’s, Miller’s Pub, Poke Poké, Wedding Brands & Co., Windy City Diamonds

State Street businesses vandalized:

7-Eleven, AKIRA, Bank of America, Dunkin’ Donuts, Fifth Third Bank, Foot Locker / House of Hoops, Journeys, Potbelly, Starbucks, State and Lake Chicago Tavern, TJ Maxx, theWit, Vans, Walgreens, Zumiez

There was damage to public property, as well, such as planters, the Lightscape art installation, and The Gateway, located in the middle of State Street just south of Wacker Drive.

Cleanup started on Saturday night, with the City of Chicago’s Streets and Sanitation Department cleaning debris and the Building Department boarding damaged windows. Businesses not damaged were encouraged by city officials to board windows on their own as a precaution.

Photo by Holly Lipschultz

(Left) Boarded storefronts along Michigan Avenue. Photo by Holly Lipschultz.

Between a security perimeter around the downtown area, suspension of CTA train and bus service, bridges over the Chicago River being raised, and an overnight curfew – punishable by fines and arrest – non-essential movement was flattened on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced access to the central business district will be mostly restored on Wednesday. Select closures and service interruptions, along with the nightly curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., will remain in effect until further notice.

“Our city is badly wounded and our hearts are heavy,” wrote 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins in an email to constituents on Sunday.

According to Hopkins, 68 city-owned vehicles were destroyed or rendered inoperative and more than 20 police officers were injured seriously enough to require medical attention.

(Right) With Chicago police walking and riding bicycles along with them, hundreds of protesters cross into River North on Friday evening after gathering near Millennium Park at around 5:00 p.m. They are seen here on State Street, passing Illinois Street.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

Hopkins told his constituents that graffiti removal is a “secondary priority.” The vandalism, he says, “is so extensive it will take some time for graffiti removal to be completed.”

42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, meanwhile, encouraged residential buildings downtown to lock their outside doors after 9:00 p.m.

Neighborhood groups support protest, condemn vandalism

Rich Gamble, chairman of the board of directors of The Magnificent Mile Association, called the damage “a devastating blow to our district as most buildings were tagged, many windows were broken, and there was widespread looting along North Michigan Avenue, Oak Street, and beyond.”

Mag Mile businesses that were vandalized include AT&T Store, Cartier, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Disney Store, Tiffany & Co., and Zara.

Businesses vandalized in River North include 7-Eleven, AMA Plaza, Chase, CVS Pharmacy, Epic Burger, Fifth Third Bank, Osteria Via Stato, Quartino Ristorante, Reid Murdoch Center, RPM, Sally Beauty, Starbucks, TJ Maxx, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, and Wintrust Bank

Photo by Holly Lipschultz

Mike Riordan, president of River North Residents Association, says his organization is “heartbroken” by the damage.

“We have been shaken to our core by the lawlessness and destruction that we witnessed in our beloved neighborhood last night,” said Riordan on Sunday. “We were uplifted, though, by rays of kindness and positivity as residents and volunteers came out and joined with city departments and business owners in the cleanup effort today.”

(Left) A heavily-damaged CVS Pharmacy at 121 West Kinzie Street in River North. Photo by Holly Lipschultz.

Deborah Gershbein, president of Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, said peaceful protests were “highjacked by criminals with the very worst intentions.”

“We support peaceful protest and commend those who attempted to keep it peaceful, but civil unrest by destroying and defacing property, looting, and throwing objects at our first responders is totally unacceptable criminal behavior,” she said. “These actions have severely damaged our Streeterville neighborhood and severely hamper the goal of civil rights for everyone.”