Looters strike stores in Waukegan, Beach Park
Store owners and community members worked to clean up and rebuild Monday following the looting of businesses in northern Waukegan and Beach Park Sunday night.
Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham said the looting began after a peaceful protest march Sunday evening. As with hundreds of similar protests in the U.S. and around the world, people came out in Waukegan to express anger at last week's death of George Floyd after he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer, who was seen in videos with his knee to Floyd's neck and was later charged with murder.
Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said there were hundreds of looters in Waukegan and Beach Park and about 10 arrests. In addition, five Lake County Sheriff's squad cars were damaged by looters.
Covelli said officials do not believe the protesters were involved in the looting.
Authorities took steps Monday night to prevent further looting. Covelli said there would be significantly more deputies on patrol. Gurnee Police said people made threats online to loot specific larger businesses in Gurnee and some businesses decided to close as a precaution.
On Sunday, looters hit several stores near N. Lewis and W. Glen Flora avenues in northern Waukegan between 9 and 10 p.m. Sunday. Covelli said another hot spot was near N. Lewis Ave. and W. Wadsworth Road in Beach Park, Covelli said.
"Everything is smashed and gone. They did a pretty good job breaking everything up," said Brad Lemer, the owner of CBD & Smoke Emporium on the 1300 block of North Lewis Avenue in Waukegan. "It's a shame this happened in this community and it's a lot of family-run businesses. I look forward to rebuilding and being here for the future because I feel I am part of the community too."
Cinder blocks and bricks used by looters to smash in the windows of the nearby Metro by T-Mobile were still visible Monday morning.
Other nearby stores that were damaged, looted or both included Rue 21, Ross Dress For Less, Sun Cleaners and Plaza Jewelers.
During a Facebook Live address Monday morning, Cunningham called the looting a disappointment. He did not yet have an estimate on the cost of damages.
"We literally destroyed that area for no apparent reason," Cunningham said, referring to the "ground zero" of Lewis and Glen Flora.
Cunningham, who took part in the peaceful protest, said people who bring destruction will not be tolerated.
"These are your blocks, these are the stores your families go to for goods and services," Cunningham said. "We trust we cannot repeat this again."
Covelli said about 10 people who were involved in looting in Beach Park and Waukegan were arrested by police Sunday night. Covelli said they were all from the area.
Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim said those arrested face felony charges including burglary, looting and criminal damage to property.
"I strongly condemn the actions of the police officers involved in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and any acts of police brutality anywhere," Nerheim said. "Protests are designed to bring about change, but criminal conduct like this deflects attention from these important conversations and positive changes."
• Daily Herald Deputy Director of Visual Journalism Paul Valade contributed to this report.