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Lake County state’s attorney says he will ‘aggressively prosecute’ looters, rioters

Aftermath of rue21 on Lewis Avenue in Waukegan after it was looted overnight. | Photo: Waukegan 5th Ward Alderman Edith Newsome.

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim has issued a statement warning that his office will aggressively prosecute those who cause property damage and loot businesses.

“As I indicated in my original statement last week, I strongly condemn the actions of the police officers involved in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and any acts of police brutality anywhere. My heart continues to go out to family of Mr. Floyd for their loss,” Nerheim said.

“While I fully support people’s right to peacefully protest and demonstrate, acts of violence in Lake County will not be tolerated,” he said.

Hundreds of people looted dozens of businesses and caused property damage as others attacked police officers with bricks, bottles and rocks overnight in Waukegan.

What started as peaceful protests in Lake County on Sunday turned into looting and rioting during the evening and overnight hours in Waukegan and Beach Park.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said that they sent dozens of sheriff’s deputies to assist the Waukegan Police Department with hundreds of looters.

Approximately two dozen businesses were broken into and looted, and somewhere around a dozen of people were arrested by police, Lake County Sheriff Spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said.

Social media videos captured some of the looting and rioting. In one video, numerous people broke the windows to the rue21 store at 1321 North Lewis Avenue in Waukegan and stole armfuls of clothes before running out of the store.

One of five Lake County sheriff’s squad cars that was seriously damaged in Waukegan overnight. | Provided photo.

A large amount of property was damaged and stolen throughout the night in Waukegan but a loss estimate was not immediately available.

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Five Lake County Sheriff’s Office squad cars sustained significant damage from people who intentionally damaged the cars, Covelli said. Rioters threw rocks, bricks and bottles at police officers; however, no officers were injured.

“I want to make it well known that the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office will aggressively prosecute these offenders and anyone in the future who continues along this destructive path that threatens the safety of the people, law enforcement, or businesses of Lake County,” Nerheim said.

“Protests are designed to bring about change, but criminal conduct like this deflects attention from these important conversations and positive changes,” he added.

Nerheim said he fully supports the constitutional right of people peacefully protesting as he called for peace in the community.

“The members of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office will continue increased countywide patrols to protect the safety of our residents and businesses. The sheriff’s office will continue working closely with our local and regional law-enforcement partners,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Monday morning.

“I am beyond grateful for the men and women of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and all of our area law-enforcement personnel who are working diligently to keep the community safe. We will remain steadfast in our efforts to protect the people and property of Lake County,” Sheriff John Idleburg said.


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