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Local News

Joliet curfew enforced, roads blocked by police, protest is peaceful

The Louis Joliet Mall and other shopping areas in Joliet and Crest Hill were blocked off Monday night as both cities enforced an 8 p.m. curfew aimed at averting a second night of rioting and looting.

A Black Lives Matter protest at Jefferson Street and Larkin Avenue ended peacefully at 8 p.m. as protesters and police got along, a change from a similar event Sunday when a confrontation at the same corner seemed to spawn the outbreak of looting.

Spellman Stewart of Joliet said he was “very aware” of the looting that happened Sunday.

“I don’t condone any of it,” Stewart said. But, he added, “I feel like I should come out here because I should show support.”

A constant honking of horns from motorists going through the intersection for the three hours of the demonstration showed strong support from the public as well.

Joliet officials, however, insisted they would not allow a second night of mayhem in the city.

Thirty people were arrested and 10 stores were looted Sunday.

“I just want to assure the people of Joliet that we will keep law and order in Joliet,” the mayor said at a press conference.

O’Dekirk said he will review the curfew Monday to determine whether it would continue.

The destruction Sunday night ranged from a small grocery on West Jefferson Street that was set on fire to attempts to break into the Louis Joliet Mall.

The looters did damage but did not get into the mall, O’Dekirk said. They did get into the Target store in a shopping center on the other side of Plainfield Road.

The Target shopping center was blocked off Monday night as a squad car and city truck were parked on Hennepin Drive, making the road impassable north of Plainfield Road.

Trucks and squads were strategically placed at other entryways both around the Target shopping center and the Louis Joliet Mall.

The entry to the Hillcrest Shopping Center in Crest Hill was blocked with a concrete barricade and city vehicles.

One Joliet official said there was concern that there could be attempts at looting later in the night with no connection to the demonstration at Jefferson and Larkin.

O’Dekirk said even on Sunday that demonstration was peaceful for most of the day. But the mayor said the atmosphere changed hours into the protest as more people arrived and some began going into the street to block traffic.

As police intervened, protesters threw rocks, bottles of water and M-80 fireworks at police, O’Dekirk said.

One protester who returned Monday, however, said police also went too far as they broke up the demonstration.

Jasmine Godfrey of Joliet said her two brothers were arrested after police jumped on one of them as they were trying to leave.

“We were following orders,” Godfrey said. “It was getting crazy. They said go home or go to jail, and we were going home peacefully.”

Godfrey, who serves in the medical corps of the Navy Reserves, said she came back Monday “because I’m not afraid and because this is important for all of us.”

The demonstration at times broke out into chants of, “Black lives matter.”

Some shouted to passing motorists, “White silence is violence.”

When four police officers showed up at 5:30 p.m., several chanted, “Black lives before blue lives,” and, “I can’t breathe. Get off.”

Still by 8 p.m., when police began to ask the crowd to disperse, it did.

Lt. Joe Egizio said he made contact with people involved in the protest at the start to discuss the 8 p.m. curfew.

“I told them what the game plan was,” he said. “I appreciate their cooperation.”

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