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Braced for possible looting, West Siders vented frustrations

West Garfield Park residents must deal with police blockades, closed grocery stores

August 10th, 2020 7:24 PM

A woman is turned away by police at an alley leading to Madison Street on Aug. 10. | Igor Studenkov

West Side residents expressed growing frustration Monday afternoon as Chicago police closed off West Garfield Park's Madison/Pulaski shopping district after looting broke out on Magnificent Mile hours earlier. 

The looting started in the early hours of Aug. 10, reportedly in response to a police officer shooting a man in the South Side Englewood community on Sunday afternoon.  

By Monday afternoon, police had setup checkpoints near Madison and Pulaski, with Madison Street closed as far west as Keeler and as far east as Hamlin Avenue. Pulaski Road was blocked as far north as Washington Boulevard and as far south as Jackson Boulevard. 

The Cook County Sheriff's office assisted the Chicago Police Department at the south end of Pulaski Road, where a large prison bus blocked off the entire street and uniform sheriffs deputies stood nearby. 

North of the corridor, Chicago police setup two layers of checkpoints. At West End and Pulaski, officers turned all southbound traffic east, but allowed northbound traffic to pass through. Officers, however, made no attempt to stop pedestrians walking in either direction. 

At Washington Boulevard, all traffic was redirected away from Pulaski and pedestrians were encouraged tow all to Hamlin Avenue if they wanted to travel south. 

At the northwest corner of Madison and Hamlin, crews could be seen boarding up the south-facing windows of the Midwest Apartments building, 6 N. Hamlin Ave. One of the police officers on the scene mentioned that the Walgreens on the building's first floor closed an hour earlier, at 2;00 p.m., to the annoyance of a young woman who asked the officer about the store. 

"I was going to get some shopping done," she sighed.

The Aldi grocery store across the street, at 3835 W. Madison St., was closed, too. 

One resident of Monroe Street who declined to give his name said that the police checkpoints reminded him of when he first moved to Chicago some 50 years ago, when Blacks were not allowed to go into what was then majority-white Austin. 

"I shouldn't need to show an ID to go home," the man said. "They're keeping us locked in. I can't go here," he motioned toward Hamlin, "andI can't go over there," he said, motioning toward Monroe. 

At Madison and Keeler, the city brought in garbage trucks to block the intersection and a large group of police officers were gathered in front of them. At the time this reporter approached, a car parked at the northeastern corner blared "Fuck the Police" by N.W.A.

Eddie Austin was one of the people who stood by observing the barricades. He said that, while he doesn't currently live in West Garfield Park, he grew up only a block away and still has family living in the neighborhood. 

"It's really sad," Austin said. "It's a sad day for the neighborhood, especially for the African-American race. We should not be doing that. We need to be helping [Lori Lightfoot] make it a better place."

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