SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Illinois State Police say there is not yet any indication that incidents of violence, looting or other unrest across the state have been instigated by any, single “structured group.”
In a press conference Monday evening aimed at clarifying state police’s increased involvement in monitoring protests across the state, ISP Director Brendan Kelly said the department has been monitoring various incidents of looting, theft, arson and other criminal damage in the wake of those gatherings.
Claims that those incidents are being perpetrated by a single organized group aren’t substantiated with current information. Kelly said that there has been a repeated process that ISP and other law enforcement agencies — including Champaign’s — have seen in multiple cities.
“How this process has evolved over the past 24, 48 and 72 hours has been that we have seen a number of individuals between the ages of 17 and 25…communicating with one another on social media, targeting a particular business…saying ‘Let’s meet at this location at this time,'” Kelly said during a press conference. “Once they reach a critical mass of people, they find a way to break the windows – either using rocks or hammers or picking up a trash can. There’s some indication that maybe they attempted to set fires in some locations. But there is a process which has been repeated.”
Kelly said the “cycle of activity” is “not like the usual cycle of crime.”
That’s why Gov. JB Pritzker earlier Monday authorized the calling up of 300 additional ISP officers to be deployed to work with local law enforcement departments across the state, he said.
They’ll join an additional 250 National Guard members who were also called for deployment to various cities across the state.
There isn’t a particular list of cities in which either National Guard members or ISP officers will be sent — although nine counties are now under disaster declarations — so they can be “nimble” and be sent wherever they may be needed on an “hour-by-hour” basis.
“The main focus of that is to provide some relief, some flexibility, some additional support to local law enforcement to be able to focus on preventative policing — to be able to not just respond to and run from fire to fire, literally from fire to fire in some cases, but to be able to deal with public safety and protecting the public in a proactive way rather than reacting,” Kelly said.
“It is my hope that when we get to Thursday or Friday that we’ll have a lot of folks from the State Police standing around doing nothing,” he continued. “That’s our hope, and it’s my hope that we will have National Guard (members), that are standing around doing nothing because the need won’t be there because we’ve made a new environment that is safer and create an environment that allows for the continued peaceful expression of the public’s concern. But we have to take these measures… We have to be ready.”