A photo of a vandalized Chicago Police Department squad car after a day of protesting in downtown Chicago on May 30 | Photo by Matt Harvey [The TRiiBE]

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is implementing an emergency curfew, effective from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. daily, to curb the “criminal activity” taking place during a peaceful day of protest following the police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.

If people refuse to follow the curfew, Lightfoot said they will be arrested. Essentially workers are exempt from the curfew, she added.

Anyone who needs to leave the Loop tonight can exit by foot or vehicle via the South Loop or the La Salle Street Bridge, and can access the CTA outside of the loop, according to a city press release.

“A normal start to this discussion would be to say good evening, but it’s not a good evening in our city right now,” Lightfoot said at a 8 p.m. conference that she announced 30 minutes before it began.

For the past six hours, Lightfoot said she watched people who came to the protest “armed for battle,” throwing bottles of urine at police and breaking into businesses along Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.

“I’m here to call out your recklessness,” Lightfoot said. 

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) will impose and enforce the curfew, Lightfoot said.

Chicago joined cities across the U.S. in the “Day of Protest,” which was organized locally by the Chicago Alliance against Racist and Political Repression. Protestors are seeking justice after Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on the neck of 46-year-old George Floyd, who was arrested on May 25 after a grocery store accused him of trying to use a $20 counterfeit bill and called police.

After eight minutes of whispering “I can’t breathe,” Floyd died. All four officers involved in Floyd’s death were not arrested after the incident. Days later, on Friday afternoon, ex-police officer Chavin had been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Before today’s protest, CPD Supt. David Brown reported that 108 people were arrested during a smaller, local protest on Friday night. Also, 12 police squad cars were vandalized and one police officer broke his wrist as he tried to fight off protestors. 

TRiiBE reporter Matt Harvey covered the protest on our Twitter page. His video coverage showed vandalized police cars, crowds attempting to flip over a CPD wagon, people crowding on Lake Shore Drive, which resulted in the closure of northbound and southbound lanes, and the Chicago flag being set on fire. Later in the day, videos showed crowds breaking into stores at the Water Tower Place and other shops on Michigan Avenue. 

At the press conference, Brown said several buildings have been vandalized. Police officers also used pepper spray for crowd control during the protests. The city raised its bridges over the Chicago River to prevent the protest crowd from spilling into the Magnificent Mile, but protestors used other routes to get onto the street. Lightfoot said there’s no consideration to call in the National Guard. 

The TRiiBE asked Lightfoot if she has any creative plans she can implement to ease organizers’s fears of over-policing, which many people were downtown protesting today. 

Lightfoot said, “Let me just be clear. The people who are throwing things at our police, who came armed with weapons, in what should’ve been a peaceful protest to honor the memory of George Floyd, those are criminals. And we gave and continue to give peaceful first amendment expression the space that it needs and the space that it deserves, but we can have zero tolerance for people who came prepared for a fight and try to initiate and provoke our police department. There’s no space for that and we should not give them any shelter, anywhere, in our city. That’s not who we are as Chicagoans. The vast majority of people who assembled yesterday and today did what we would have expected, which is peaceful protest. But for the other element, they came to stir up a mess and create havoc and we’re not having it in our city.”

Stay tuned for more stories about today’s “Day of Protest.”