CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Champaign Police Department is investigating the origins of a social media post that encouraged people to show up to Market Place Mall on Sunday for a “riot.”
A post shared on Facebook encouraged people to show up to “riot” at Market Place Mall around 3 p.m.; it did not make mention of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, which prompted protests against police brutality across the country.
And while not all those gathered in Champaign Sunday evening participated in the looting of various stores at the mall and along Prospect Avenue, the unrest at Market Place Mall “unfolded very quickly” as people “got out of cars and went directly to looting,” CPD Police Chief Anthony Cobb said.
“There was no protest beforehand,” he said.
Cobb said during a press conference it remained unclear who had organized the event at Market Place Mall.
“That’s what we’re trying to work through as we go through this process of trying to hold people accountable for what has occurred,” he said.
He said Champaign Police officers were prepped ahead of time to not to make the civil unrest “about themselves” and to recognize individuals’ rights to peacefully protest.
“When you start breaking windows and go into stores and taking property, that’s where we draw the line,” he said.
He went on to call for the public to be “good witnesses” and share relevant information with police as they continue to investigate.
Area arrests since Sunday
Between early Sunday evening and Monday morning, 27 people were arrested and booked in the Champaign County Jail.
The 36 different charges the arrestees face range from burglary and criminal trespass to mob action to possession of stolen property.
The breakdown of those arrested is split between 10 women and 17 men, whose ages range from 19 to 36-years-old.
CPD is asking business owners who may have experienced property damage during the looting to document the estimated value of such damage — as well as the value of stolen inventory — and provide it to them. Police say they also want video footage of any incidents, if that footage is available.