Pritzker calls 375 National Guard members to Chicago

  • People confront police officers during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Chicago on Saturday. In the wake of outbreaks of violence and vandalism later Saturday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sunday announced he has called 375 members of the Illinois National Guard to Chicago.

    People confront police officers during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Chicago on Saturday. In the wake of outbreaks of violence and vandalism later Saturday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sunday announced he has called 375 members of the Illinois National Guard to Chicago. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

 
 
Updated 5/31/2020 5:36 PM

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Sunday that he has called up 375 members of the Illinois National Guard to assist Chicago police in dealing with a possible resumption of violence, vandalism and looting that marred previously peaceful protests Saturday night in the city's downtown.

Pritzker, speaking at a joint news conference with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, said the Guard members will be limited to a support role in dealing with traffic and crowd issues related to the protests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The Guard has explicit direction not to interfere (with peaceful protests)," Pritzker said. "They will operate under the most stringent of limits on use of force and (commanding officer Adjutant Gen. Richard Neely) has made that abundantly clear."

Describing the majority of Saturday's protest as "peaceful, massive and beautiful," Pritzker said it is time for leaders to take actions to address the racial injustice that spurred them.

Lightfoot said Guard members will not be involved in any patrol or policing activity. Their role, she said, is to support police efforts to allow peaceful protests while preventing violence and damage to property.

As for those responsible for the outbreak of violence and property damage, Lightfoot said it is clear those people had different intentions than those protesting the killing of George Floyd last week in Minneapolis.

"You don't bring a claw hammer or a shovel or a bottle of urine unless you're there for something other than peaceful protest," she said. "Clearly an effort was made to subvert the peaceful protest and turn it into something else. Make no mistake, this was an organized effort."

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