A Black Lives Matter organizer in Chicago is defending the violence that caused $60 million in damage and injured 13 police officers on Sunday, characterizing looting as "reparations."
Ariel Atkins, a BLM organizer, according to Chicago NBC network affiliate WMAQ, justified the riot in the Chicago Downtown Business District during a Monday rally at police station in the "South Loop," where protesters claim more than 100 people arrested in Sunday's violence were being held.
"I don't care if someone decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy's or a Nike store, because that makes sure that person eats," Atkins told WMAQ. "That makes sure that person has clothes.
"That is reparations. Anything they wanted to take, they can take it because these businesses have insurance."
The rioting occurred after word spread that police had shot a 20-year-old man on the South Side of the city. One post on Facebook erroneously claimed that police had shot and killed a 15-year-old boy.
Police were called to the Englewood neighborhood at about 2:30 p.m. local time for a report of a man with a gun, located the suspect and began a pursuit on foot, according to Chicago Fox network affiliate WFLD.
"During the foot pursuit, the offender turned and fired shots at the officers," Deputy Chief Delonda Tally. "The officers then returned, discharging their weapon."
The suspect, Latrell Allen, 20, who was charged with attempted murder Monday, was transported to the University of Chicago Hospital.
However, calls to descended upon the Central Business District and its upscale Magnificent Mile shopping area drew hundreds in the evening and early Monday with rioting and looting as a result, smashing windows and also sparking clashes with police.
"This was not an organized protest. Rather, this was an incident of pure criminality," Police Superintendent David Brown said. "This was an act of violence against our police officers and against our city."
A Black Lives Matter statement obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times also appeared to justify the destruction.
"When protesters attack high-end retail stores that are owned by the wealthy and service the wealthy, that is not 'our' city and has never been meant for us," the statement read in part.
A sign at Monday's rally displayed by protesters read: "Our futures have been looted from us . . . loot back."
In its statement, Black Lives Matter also called for the Chicago police to be abolished.
"The mayor clearly has not learned anything since May, and she would be wise to understand that the people will keep rising up until the (Chicago Police Department) is abolished and our Black communities are fully invested in," it said.
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