More National Guard, state troopers deployed; disaster proclamations in suburbs
To combat "an extraordinary and difficult" moment, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday activated 250 additional Illinois National Guard soldiers and 300 Illinois State Police troopers to keep the peace after a weekend of violence and looting across the state.
He also announced a disaster proclamation for nine counties: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, Champaign, Kendall, Macon, Madison, and Sangamon. The reinforcements will be helping suburbs and communities outside Chicago.
"It's difficult to put into words the damage that has happened to our communities over the weekend," Pritzker said. "It's a difficult second rebuilding to ask of people on top of pandemic-induced economic strife, and that pain will fall disproportionately on the backs of small-business owners, our working families and our communities of color -- and it has to stop.
"We have to take care of our people. And for that reason we will continue to flexibly deploy the Illinois State Police and the National Guard strategically."
Already, 375 National Guard soldiers were deployed last week to back up Chicago police as looting and violence broke out amid protests over the death of George Floyd. Floyd died May 25 as a police officer in Minneapolis put his knee on his neck.
Pritzker said the "pain" of systemic racism and injustice in America is real and it's wrong to conflate looters with peaceful protesters.
"We'll do what's necessary to allow peaceful protesters to do the kind of protest that's appropriate and then to catch the bad guys," he said.
The deployment comes at the request of local municipalities and counties, Pritzker said. The disaster proclamation is "limited right now to law enforcement and to being responsive to the needs of those counties without having to deal with a lot of red tape when we need to move quickly," Pritzker said.
"We do live in some extraordinary and difficult moments. Having said that, we will meet the challenge. It is time for people all across our state and particularly for our faith leaders to step us and remind us who we are."
The state has already lost millions in revenues with thousands unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.