Eastland Mall, Twin Cities businesses broken into, looted; City leaders plan to keep things under control

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Windows broken, businesses looted in the Twin Cities Monday night.

Over 15 arrests have been made since Monday night’s lootings according to Bloomington mayor Tari Renner and the Bloomington Police Department.

Cars of people gathered in the parking lot and then rushed the Kohl’s at Eastland Mall. A distraction device was deployed by police who then chased looters away.

Mayor Renner says he came to the scene to ask people what was wrong.

He claims one individual pushed him to the ground, where he was knocked down to his knees, and then attempted to punch him in the face. Renner says he blocked the punch before the person who attacked him fled the scene.

“We made it clear, in Bloomington you are not going to loot and pillage our community and get away with it. And the police officers made sure you couldn’t even get into the parking lot at Best Buy for example they had that place locked down,” Renner said.

Mayor Renner says City Council is discussing a curfew. He doesn’t think it’s necessary to call in the National Guard yet.

Doors at Eastland Mall will be boarded up and and stores will remain closed until further notice.

At approximately 11:30 p.m., the BPD said a group of approximately 100 people returned to the mall in a caravan of vehicles – stopping near the Kohl’s.

Shortly after they arrived, one man broke off from the group and damaged a squad car’s windshield with others throwing rocks and other projectiles at officers.

As this was taking place, police said several people broke the glass on the front of the store, entered, and began looting the store.

Officers utilized a non-lethal chemical gas to disperse the crowd while also making arrests of looters.

“The mall sustained minor damage last night and remained closed today so that repairs could be made. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and with local authorities and will make adjustments as needed,” said Eastland Mall Spokesperson Stacey Keating.

“This is sad. This is like you’re under a war siege. That’s why I call it domestic terrorism. We are not going to be threatened in Bloomington. We are going to do what we need to do to protect our citizens, protect our businesses, and shut this stuff down,” Mayor Renner said.

After WMBD spoke with Mayor Renner in person, he issued the following statement via email to members of the media.

“As Mayor of our great City, I was heartened by the overflow crowd in front of the Law and Justice
Center to engage in a peaceful demonstration for social justice. Later, as a few people led looting and destruction of private property, cars, and businesses in both Bloomington and Normal, I was deeply disturbed. The latter actions are a total betrayal to the great legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American civil rights movement,” Renner said. “At their core, they stressed non-violent peaceful protests. The actions of a few cannot be tolerated in our community that is part of a civilized society. The tactics used by looters are not, and never have been, an effective
means to achieve social justice. These actions are inexcusable.”

City Council member Jenn Carrillo sent the following email to news stations after Renner’s email.

“For clarity’s sake: Though we (the council) are CCed on this statement for our information, this should not be interpreted to mean that we (or at least, I) endorse this particular language,” Carrillo said. Carrillo is the Council Representative for Ward 6 in Bloomington.

WMBD spoke with Carrillo via email, and she directed us to a Facebook post she made on Sunday afternoon. You can see the full statement below.

Yesterday, I had the privilege to speak at the NAACP rally against police brutality and honoring #GeorgeFloyd. When a group decided they were going to mobilize afterwards, I followed, marching and chanting alongside protesters, and did my best to keep people safe by stopping traffic, directing marchers, and de-escalating conflicts within the crowd. The demonstration was by-and-large completely peaceful until a motorcyclist intentionally plowed through the crowd, which injured several and understandably provoked the crowd to react in fear and anger. I went home shortly thereafter, still grieving and broken-hearted but filled with pride for the way our young people led the way yesterday.

Jenn Carrillo | Bloomington City Council Member | Ward 6

“When I woke up this morning, I learned about the incidents that transpired at various stores later in the night,” Carrillo said. “While I was saddened to hear about what happened, I cannot, and I will not tell Black folks how to feel, protest, mourn, or how to express their rightful rage over an immoral status quo—one that forces us into the streets to chant what should be a given, but is far from the reality in this country and in our community: #BlackLivesMatter.”

“What you have seen in the streets over the past several nights is merely the harvest of an American empire built upon hundreds of years of brutality and violence: from the pillaging and looting of lands inhabited by indigenous people, to the brutality of slavery, Jim Crow and our current criminal (in)justice system, to the violence of forcing people to die of illness, or homelessness, or starvation if they can’t generate profit,” Carrillo said. “We are all touched by this violence on a daily basis, but none are the recipients of violence like Black people in this country. This is true right here in Bloomington-Normal, where Black people are excluded and deeply marginalized; in which they are pulled over, searched, arrested and incarcerated at higher rates; in which they are much more likely to be punished, suspended or expelled from our schools; in which they experience poverty and unemployment at twice the rate of whites; in which they are segregated in sub-par neighborhoods; and in which they are forced to live with no real say or power over what happens in their lives.”

“The question we should be asking ourselves is: How can we be surprised that this endless violence against Black bodies (which we all accept, fund, and perpetuate) has begotten this kind of trauma playing out on our streets?” Carrillo asked. We are ALL responsible for what is happening here. I beg you to please take this moment to reflect on what your role has been (I know I am).”

For those who are struggling to understand why protestors are engaging in some of the behaviors you are seeing (looting, destruction of property, vandalism), I ask that you try to ground your understanding in how people respond to trauma: think of the ways you or people you love have behaved when they have really gone through something. Our human responses to trauma are sometimes harmful to ourselves and others, or self-defeating, or not grounded in logic/strategy, and most of the time they aren’t pretty or socially acceptable. In this case, we aren’t talking about folks who have endured just one traumatic event, but rather folks who must carry the chronic and generational trauma of living under a system of racism.”

Jenn Carrillo | Bloomington City Council Member | Ward 6

Carrillo continued her statement addressing community members in Bloomington.

“People–our friends and neighbors–are hurting deeply. Please resist the urge to condemn what you don’t understand, connect with your humanity, and don’t lose sight of the fact that what you’re seeing is a collective reaction to trauma… even if it plays out in ways that you don’t understand or condone,” Carrillo said. “I pray for the safety of all of our residents during these difficult times and remain committed to be of service in any way I can. If folks need anything–even if its just someone to hear you out and hold space–I am here for you. We have deep and painful work to do as a community and as a country if we are ever to heal. The riots, the looting, the demonstrations might stop today or a week from now, but until we can acknowledge and act against the violence that we tolerate in our daily lives (both the violence that’s inflicted against us, and the violence we benefit from) we will never know a true positive peace–which is not the absence of tension but the presence of justice. No justice, no peace: It’s not a threat, it’s an inevitability. But I believe in my heart that we can arrive at justice and peace together,” Carrillo finished her statement.

Mayor Renner says he commends peaceful protests and was apart of the one on Sunday which was outside of the McLean County Justice and Law Center.

“I spoke at the peaceful protest on Sunday, that was great. We had 1,000 or more people in front of the Law and Justice Center. The speakers were all encouraging people to continue to stay involved in the pursuit of social justice,” Renner said. “But, there is a far cry from that and what some people are using this opportunity for. Some people are using this opportunity obviously for their own agenda which is not social justice. If you want to steal and break things, no matter how made you are, that’s not going to help.”

Mayor Renner says there is a ‘credible suggestion’ is that some of the looters were hired to come to Bloomington and loot stores.

“We’ll find out with the 15 people who were arrested and where they are from and what the story is,” Renner said.

Renner thinks the situation is under control and he commends both police departments in Bloomington and Normal.

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