An organizer with the Chicago Black Lives Matter movement, Ariel Atkins, claimed that looting during anti-racism protests should be seen as "reparations" while holding a rally in support of those arrested during Sunday's unrest in Chicago.
“I don’t care if somebody decides to loot a Gucci’s or a Macy’s or a Nike because that makes sure that that person eats. That makes sure that that person has clothes", Atkins said during the rally, cited by NBC Chicago.
She claimed that protesters can take anything they want, "because these businesses have insurance".
Atkins made her remarks during a rally she organised shortly after unrest occured in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood on Sunday afternoon, after a man named Latrell Allen fired shots at police and they returned fire. According to police, over a hundred were arrested on a range of offenses, including looting that began after the incident. During the Sunday confrontation with protesters, police said 13 officers were injured.
Allen faces murder charges following the shooting.
“This person fired shots at our officers. Officers returned fire and struck the individual", CPD Superintendent David Brown told NBC Chicago.
Atkins, however, refuses to accept the police statement, stating that "police say a lot of things" and pointing at the lack of body cameras on police officers during the incident. The absence of body cameras was confirmed by investigators and the public is now being asked to help in providing witness videos.
“Even though the Department of Justice said with the consent decree they are no longer allowed to chase people, they decided they were going to chase, and they shot this young man multiple times,” Atkins said.
During the rally, police erected barriers and raised bridges in downtown Chicago, stating that they were taking the actions to prevent looting in the Central Business District, while train and bus routes were limited.
Large-scale protests against racism and police brutality have been rocking the United States since late May, when a black man named George Floyd was killed by white police while in custody. The following months saw some protests turn violent, with people looting shops, toppling monuments of historical figures considered controversial and clashing with police.