News - Joliet and Will County

Joliet plans curfew, other measures to prevent street violence

Police on Sunday try to control a demonstration at Jefferson Street and Larkin Avenue that eventually would began to spill into the street.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk plans to issue a curfew today as Joliet prepares to ward off a second day of rioting, looting and vandalism.

The Louis Joliet Mall was among businesses vandalized, a small grocery on Jefferson Street was set on fire, and the city lifted up the drawbridges on the Des Plaines River to prevent a suspected plan to riot downtown on Sunday.

The trouble followed two peaceful demonstrations Sunday afternoon to protest the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.

"There were two protests yesterday that were legitimate and peaceful protests," O'Dekirk said.

O'Dekirk said Monday morning that city staff is "drafting the document right now" to issue the curfew order that will come out today.

The city is taking other measures to prevent more vandalism, although O'Dekirk said there were no sure signs there would be a second night of violence.

"It's hard to say if it will repeat itself. I saw a lot of people from out of town," O'Dekirk said. "I saw out-of-state license plates."

A number of arrests were made throughout the night. Jail records show 13 men and women were booked Sunday night through mid Monday morning. Of them, eight were from Joliet, two from Crest Hill and one each from Harvey, Matteson and Bolingbrook.

The Bolingbrook resident was arrested by the Bolingbrook police on a charge of violating his parole, according to jail records.

More than 12 people were arrested during the rioting in Joliet, however.

"There were 24 arrests made, including a number for burglary as people were spotted coming out of places," interim City Manager Steve Jones said.

Jones said city officials were planning "target hardening" strategies aimed at keeping looters away from stores and making other preparations for the possibility of more rioting.

The mayor said police would be ready Monday night. Firefighters were being given bulletproof vests, and other city departments will be used if needed to block off streets.

"I can't say enough about how good a job police did," O'Dekirk said about the police ability to check vandalism and looting as it broke out in several spots. "We met them at every turn."

The downtown drawbridges were down this morning. O'Dekirk said they were lifted out of concern that the mobile vandalism might head downtown at some point.

He said cars with out-of-state plates were seen circling downtown streets, and police believed there presence in the area was being monitored.

"I think they were intending to burn downtown Joliet or attack different targets downtown," O'Dekirk said.

Will County Sheriff’s police protected the courthouse, while state police also were stationed downtown, the mayor said.

Aurora on Sunday also saw peaceful protests precede violence.

In downtown Aurora, two buildings were set on fire, other buildings were vandalized, and 14 people were arrested, according to the Aurora police Facebook page.

The two Joliet demonstrations occurred at the police station and at the corner of Jefferson Street and Larkin Avenue.

Joliet community leader Garland Mays said he participated in both demonstrations, but left the gathering at Jefferson and Larkin as new people arrived and demonstrators became "more aggressive" going out into the street.

"I don't know if they were from the area. I had not seen them before," Mays said. "It became a much more aggressive crowd."

The event began to change at about 4 p.m. when it had been scheduled to end, he said.

“Both protests started out very peaceful with a lot of discussion,” Mays said. “When I was out there, it was families and people with their children.”

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News