CHICAGO — After being looted for hours, a liquor store on Madison Avenue on the city’s West Side was torched Sunday night, thick smoke rising skyward.
Glenn Johnson, 45, stood in the doorway of his graphic design business across the street. He had watched people haul the wine and booze out from the store, most putting their plunder into cars with out-of-town license plates. “The weirdest thing I have ever seen in my life,” he said.
Similar damage had been seen earlier Sunday at several malls and big-box retailers, from Tinley Park, south of the city, to Skokie on the North Shore, as mobs smashed glass storefronts to make away with goods. But the looting was concentrated on Chicago’s South and West Sides.
At least three dozen police officers in riot gear guarded one location where businesses, including a Foot Locker, had been destroyed. Mannequins, shoe boxes and the cash register were strewn on the street.
The destruction continued late. In Englewood, a South Side neighborhood hit hard over decades by unemployment and poverty, people darted from a Family Dollar store and stuffed goods in the back seats or trunks of their vehicles. Moments later, a large fire went up in the parking lot, followed by the arrival of a fire department ladder truck and then the police.
A few blocks away, several officers headed into City Sports, an indoor mall that had been stripped bare earlier. “We show up and chase them out. We leave, and they come back. It’s been happening all day and all night,” one officer said as the mall’s alarms blared.
The police department announced 12-hour days for officers and no time off, a sign that the city is preparing for unrest at least all week.
Johnson said he doesn’t condone the violence, “but I don’t condemn it.” At the same time, as his city unravels, he fears “we’re so far into this, everything is going to be gone.”
“There’s no telling when this will be rebuilt,” he said.
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