Several businesses owned by Indian Americans in downtown Chicago were severely damaged after widespread looting occurred on Aug. 9 and 10. Protests and looting took place in the city after inaccurate reports of police shooting an unarmed juvenile spread on social media.

Looting specifically took place along Magnificent Mile and Gold Coast. Hundreds of people started looting late Aug. 9 evening and into Aug. 10 morning, Prashant Shah, publisher of Chicago’s oldest newspaper, India Tribune, told India-West. Shah said many of the looters used vehicles to break the thick glass of storefronts – many of which sell fashion or jewelry merchandise – in the Gold Coast area.

One of the damaged storefronts was a jewelry store owned by a Pakistani American. A news report indicated he had been in the area for nearly 40 years and lost somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 worth of merchandise. The store owner did not have insurance, according to a news report.

A liquor store in the area was also ransacked by looters on Aug. 9 and 10, according to a story published by several outlets. The store – Dalal Food & Liquor, located at 414 N. State Street – was reportedly owned by Yogi Dalal, an Indian American. He had owned the store for 33 years, according to a story published on the website, BlockClubChicago.org.

The story, which highlighted some of the damage Dalal had suffered at his store, said contractors were at Dalal Food & Liquor on Aug. 10, cutting up plywood to cover the areas where glass had been broken.

Shah told India-West stores in the area suffered similar damage in June and July, as protests and looting occurred in every major U.S. city as part of the Black Lives Matter movement or in response to the murder of George Floyd. Many of those stores were boarded up for a while and just now started to re-open before the latest wave of looting and vandalism hit downtown Chicago.

The looting on Aug. 9 was the latest setback for many of these business owners in downtown Chicago. Most businesses in Chicago and across the country had already been suffering due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Then storefronts in the downtown Chicago area suffered damages during protests and looting associated with the Floyd murder and Black Lives Matter.

Chicago City Hall enforced a lockdown in and around the downtown area in response to the looting, which began overnight on Aug. 9 and into Aug. 10. More than 100 arrests were made by police, according to news reports. There were also news reports of injuries to police officers.

One of the downtown areas reportedly targeted for looting and vandalism, in addition to Gold Coast, was Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, an upscale shopping district.

A travel restriction was in place on Aug. 10, limiting entry into portions of downtown Chicago to residents and businessowners. The restriction was lifted by Aug. 11.

The looting and vandalism occurred after word had reportedly spread of an unarmed man being killed by police on Chicago’s South Side. News reports indicated, however, that a 20-year-old man – Latrell Allen – was shot in Englewood (located in the South Side), after he had allegedly fired at police. Allen is reportedly recovering at a Chicago hospital and is in police custody.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot targeted the looters in her statement to the city on Aug. 10. She said many of the businesses in downtown Chicago are mom-and-pop stores and did not deserve to be looted.

“I refuse to let ruthless individuals tarnish the legacy or steal the future of these businesses and their employees,” Lightfoot said in her official statement. “To those that engage in this criminal activity, it was wrong and outrageous. I pray that you recognize the pain that you have caused. But, I also promise you that we will find you and bring you to justice.”

Black Lives Matter Chicago criticized Lightfoot for focusing on looters, saying she entirely missed the point of the BLM Movement.

“This morning, Mayor Lightfoot held a press conference. In a predictable and unfortunate move, she did not take this time to criticize her officers for shooting yet another Black man. Lightfoot instead spent her time attacking ‘looters.’ The mayor clearly has not learned anything since May, and she would be wise to understand that the people will keep rising up until the [Chicago Police Department] is abolished and our Black communities are fully invested in,” Black Lives Matter Chicago said in a released statement.

“Contrary to Mayor Lightfoot’s position, Black lives are and always will be more important than downtown corporations who siphon Tax Increment Financing (T.I.F.) money, while avoiding taxes, and exploiting the labor of Black and Brown Chicagoans,” the released statement continued. “These corporations have “looted” more from our communities than a few protesters ever could, yet the mayor reserves her anger for the latter. We will remain in the streets until our demands are met.” 

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