CHAMPAIGN – Citywide curfews were imposed in the central Illinois cities of Champaign, Urbana and Savoy after reports of looting and property damage at the Marketplace Mall in Champaign on Sunday.
In Champaign, the curfew started Sunday at 8:30 p.m. The Urbana curfew started at 9:00 p.m. Both expire Monday at 6:00 a.m.
Protests and reports of looting have occurred all over the country and state in response to the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
At a press conference Sunday evening, Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb says officers received a report of a social media post promoting civil unrest on Sunday. He says officers witnessed people driving up and looting businesses at the Marketplace Mall.
“And it really unfolded rather quickly where individuals exited out of their cars and went directly to businesses to loot. There was no protest ahead of time. It was more an attempt to get into businesses,” he says.
Cobb says peaceful protests followed the looting incident and that that crowd was dispersed without incident. But he says more unrest followed.
“And we’ve seen groups that were pretty volatile as far as throwing things at officers and trying to engage officers in physical confrontations.”
Cobb says his department is investigating the incident.
Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen says the protests that occurred in Champaign on Friday and Saturday were peaceful demonstrations. She also acknowledged that people are hurting.
“I understand the anger and the frustration and that the death of George Floyd was unacceptable,” said Feinen.
Feinen says she’s ready to work toward improvements in the community and listen to those who express their concerns.
Cobb encouraged anyone who wants to stage a protest or demonstration to communicate with police about their intentions. He also says the department is working with business owners whose property was damaged during yesterday’s events.
Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin says there were also reports of damage to commercial locations in Urbana but she says it was nothing like what occurred in Champaign.
Marlin says she is outraged by Floyd’s killing, but she says people need to work peacefully together to improve society.
“The damage to property and especially to businesses that have been closed for so long, and you know are just beginning to open up — and that kind of damage is just absolutely unacceptable,” said Marlin.
Another protest is planned for Monday at the Champaign County Courthouse in Urbana at 3:00 p.m.
On Sunday night, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana Chancellor Robert J. Jones sent a campus-wide email that said the return to work for campus members is delayed until further notice out of an abundance of caution. Jones’ email reads in part:
We believe this unrest and disruption is likely to continue for an unknown period of time and in an abundance of caution for the welfare of all members of our campus community, all faculty, staff and students are to continue their current remote-working arrangements until further notice. Please do not return to campus unless you have specifically received permission to do so from your supervisor.
While Chicago officials took extraordinary steps Sunday to patrol and restrict access to the city’s downtown in the hopes of preventing further chaos after a night of protests over Floyd’s death, reports of vandalism and unrest cropped up throughout the day in the city’s neighborhoods and suburbs.
Vandals smashed store windows at a shoe store and cellphone shop in the heavily-Mexican Little Village neighborhood. Multiple suburban shopping malls were closed out of caution, including in North Riverside where police reported a “large disturbance.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who ordered an indefinite nightly 9 p.m. curfew, said the Illinois National Guard had been requested to help keep order.