PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria leaders said they are cracking down on arrests after multiple overnight acts of violence and vandalism throughout the city.
Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, Police Chief Loren Marion, County Sheriff Brian Asbell, and State’s Attorney Jodi Hoos held a press conference Monday after the Peoria Police and Fire departments responded to multiple incidents around the city late Sunday into early Monday. These incidents included residential and business fires, vandalism, and looting. The rebellion seemed to stem from the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man that died after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for around nine minutes, and it has since sparked protests and riots nationwide. The four officers involved were fired the next day, and the officer that kneeled on Floyd has been arrested.
Chief of Police Loren Marion, who publicly showed support for Floyd’s family, and called the officers’ actions “disturbing” and “unacceptable,” condoned the Sunday evening and early Monday incidents. He said the acts of unrest were most likely planned.
“We know that the individuals […] were trying to separate the police because we did have the department well-staffed, and addressing the issues of concern in the different parts of the city,” Marion said.
From 10:36 p.m. to 5:11 a.m., 23 ShotSpotter alerts went off with 87 rounds fired. Eleven arsons were also reported, between 11:19 p.m. and 12:28 a.m. Additionally, 14 incidents of criminal damage to property were reported between 12:15 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. Business burglaries were reported between 12:27 a.m. and 6:13 a.m., with 49 total calls from different businesses.
Two adult males were also involved in a shooting just before 1:30 a.m. and neither are in life-threatening conditions. A PPD officer and K9 were struck in a police SUV around 2:30 a.m. by a vehicle that was traveling at a high rate of speed that went through a red light. Both the officer and the K9 are recovering.
“Honestly I don’t know if everyone was from here,” Marion said.
He and other city and county leaders made it clear they support peaceful protests and the need for change. On Saturday, protestors held a “We Matter March” that drew thousands of protestors to downtown Peoria. Organizers and demonstrators say they were honoring Floyd, but it was also about changing what they said was decades worth of racism towards minorities and people of color.
“If you want to advocate for change, we absolutely support you,” Hoos said.
She also stressed that business owners should not “take the law into your own hands.”
“It only gets worse from there,” Hoos said.
Hoos said those involved in the late Sunday-early Monday acts of rebellion that have been arrested are in custody and will be in bonding court to be charged Tuesday. She noted that anybody who resorts to violence and to crime will also “absolutely” be charged.
Asbell noted that he has supported criminal justice reform and will continue to do so.
“We want to sit down with our community leaders, the young people in our community, anyone, and talk about reform,” Asbell said. “We want to have these conversations.”
The sheriff said he and Marion are working together to try to keep the community safe and will continue as long as they need to.
Saturday evening, small protests began forming at Walmart locations in Peoria and East Peoria, as well as the Lowe’s in East Peoria. While chants broke out from protestors yelling at the police, nothing got violent and nobody was injured.
It was not discussed whether Ardis would enact a curfew Monday night, like Chicago and other larger cities that have seen more extreme protesting.
“We support this objective,” Ardis said of peaceful protesting. “[But] We cannot and will not stand for those who are creating chaos through lawlessness in our city.”
Since the outbursts, groups have been created like Peoria Cleanup Volunteers, to come together and help businesses with the cleaning process.
This story will be updated.