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Mayor Lori Lightfoot denounces vigilantism in Chicago after white men patrol neighborhood streets with bats

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 6/5/2020 Gregory Pratt, Morgan Greene
a man wearing a suit and tie: Mayor Lori Lightfoot appears with Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the Thompson Center May 31, 2020, a day after protests led to widespread damage downtown. © Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune Mayor Lori Lightfoot appears with Gov. J.B. Pritzker at the Thompson Center May 31, 2020, a day after protests led to widespread damage downtown.

CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city will not tolerate vigilantism after groups of mostly white men patrolled the streets of the Bridgeport neighborhood on Wednesday night in response to a nearby city protest.

Multiple streets were blocked in the Bridgeport neighborhood Wednesday night as nearby protests dispersed. Near West Pershing Road, water gushed from an open fire hydrant as small groups gathered on corners. Some of the men held bats. One wore a shirt that said “All Lives Matter,” one sipped a beer and another waved at an officer as he drove by. Additional groups of people, some armed with bats, lined West 31st Street.

Asked about the situation in Bridgeport, a diversifying neighborhood that served as an Irish American power base for the Daley political family, Lightfoot said, “It is absolutely not appropriate for people to take up arms, bats, pipes, whatever in patrolling neighborhoods.”

“We’ve seen that end with tragic results across the country and we’re not about to allow that practice to happen here in Chicago. If there’s an issue, call 911,” Lightfoot said. “I absolutely support neighbors being vigilant as to what’s going on on the streets and in their blocks but taking up arms, that leads to chaos and we’re not supporting vigilantism in the city of Chicago under any circumstances.”

The situation in Bridgeport frightened and angered many residents and activists who expressed concerns about racism and violence.

Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson, 11th, released a statement calling for calm.

“I support peaceful protests, demonstrations, and people’s right to voice their feelings at the murder of George Floyd. We should all be upset! Our country was founded on peaceful protests,” wrote Thompson, a grandson and nephew of former Chicago mayors. “The peaceful protests have unfortunately been tarnished and overtaken by outside organizations, whose primary goal is to cause harm to local businesses and neighborhoods. It is those anarchists and terrorists that were creating fear throughout our community.”

The “few residents” who carried weapons “were wrong,” Thompson said, and added, “I have not, do not, and will not condone vigilante violence and intimidation.”

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