ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Eighteen people were arrested over the weekend for looting and mob action between Saturday night and this morning, according to Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea at a press conference Monday afternoon.
O’Shea said police responded to 60 calls for alarms and suspicious activity in all areas of the city.
O’Shea said as of Monday, 17 businesses had reported burglaries or criminal damage to property, and said there may be more reports forthcoming.
Police say Darian Jones, 19, and 3 other suspects looted the E. State Street Target store Sunday night, and was arrested as he was leaving the store.
Jarvis Brack, 28, and Willie Carter, 51, were arrested Sunday after they allegedly beat the owner of a convenience store who confronted them as they robbed his store.
Police say Alunta Singleton, 22, was arrested Sunday morning after he and two others allegedly broke into a gas station and stole the safe.
Eli Casinelli, 35, was arrested Sunday after allegedly beating a police officer with a pole during a protest which turned violent at the Rockford Police’s District 1 headquarters on Saturday.
Michael Gordon, 38, was arrested after police say he did not comply with the dispersal order, and pushed back against the arresting officer.
O’Shea also reported packs of cars driving through the city, looking for places to loot. Some of these vehicles have been sighted on surveillance video and are being sought by police.
“We will have massive amounts of law enforcement officers throughout the city to prevent this from happening,” O’Shea said.
Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross said that, while everyone is encouraged to protest peacefully, “This is not a time to vandalize businesses and police departments. That behavior absolutely will not be tolerated.”
“If you want to change the system, vote,” she said.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara agreed, saying there is always a place for peaceful protests, but no place for violence.
Rockford Youth Activism, which coordinated Saturday’s protest at Haskell Park, issued another statement on Monday:
An Open Letter From RYA & The Events of May 30th: The protest on May 30th was a non-violent disruption in the spirit of the desegregation sit-ins or the freedom rides of the 1960s. There were people from all walks of life attending in solidarity. Organizers were very clear from the start that tactical non-violence was our orientation. Organizers are longtime Rockford residents who work within the community and they are very well aware of what the city and the police have done to silence or co-opt voices for justice in the past. We believe that there is a need for disruption of the normal state of things if social change is to occur in this city and across the country. We aren’t going to parade and go home. Although the demonstration was in solidarity specifically with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, it is clear from the mood Saturday that people understood that police terrorism is a Rockford issue, too. Many of the speakers in the rally at Haskell shared their stories of police harassment and brutality. In the press conference, Chief O’shea suggested that the main agitators for incidents that happen at RPD District 1 were mostly outsiders; we do not believe this 100% true. We believe that this statement was made to downplay the justified anger towards police violence that has been growing in the city due to deaths by police, brutality, corruption ,and misconduct. Many of the people causing the disruption were people from the very neighborhood of the precinct. It was clear, from the peaceful protest at the start of the day to the less peaceful protest at the end of the day that People in the city of Rockford are upset with the city and the RPD. Despite understanding all of this, organizers tried to de-escalate situations (some of us getting hit by rocks) at the police station to keep people safe from the police brutality. Despite our best efforts, the police response to the protesters showed who the real force of violence in the community was. The use of batons and various other types of weaponry such as tear gas or pepper spray not only against those causing the disruption but even those that were peaceful created more anger within the crowd. There is video and testimonies of these acts. While many condemned the protesters for their actions no city politician or community leader is making a statement chastising police for the brutal arrests or the peppering of the peaceful protesters. City officials and community leaders should recognize that as Martin Luther King said ‘A riot is the language of the unheard.‘”Rockford Youth Activism
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