Pritzker_2020

Gov. JB Pritzker, right, and during a news conference on Feb. 28 at the Thompson Center in Chicago.

Gov. JB Pritzker is deploying the Illinois National Guard troops to the suburbs to help restore order following violent clashes on Sunday night.

The activation of about 250 additional troops comes after the governor ordered 375 service members, all of whom have training as military police officers, to help with crowd control in Chicago.

The soldiers and airmen have been given explicit orders not to interfere with protesters who are exercising their First Amendment rights, the governor said.

“We have to take care of our people,” Pritzker said Monday.

Each soldier has been given strict guidelines in regard to use of force, said Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, the Illinois adjutant general. He has declined to discuss those rules of engagement, but the troops deployed to the suburbs will have identical orders.

Troops will be deployed to the suburbs and other parts of the state in platoons of 30 to 40 members.

“This is a mission for the national guard that we find most distasteful,” Neely said Monday. “But we answer the call.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had asked Pritzker to send the guard to help quell the violence, the first time Chicago has made such a request since Mayor Richard J. Daley brought troops in to police the Democratic National Convention in 1968.

After seeing the support Lightfoot received, mayors across Illinois made similar request as the unrest spread beyond the city limits. At least 17 people were arrested after a night of violence vandalism in Aurora, where looters ransacked business and set fires across the downtown after peaceful protests earlier that day.

Police responded by shooting tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, which largely ignored the citywide curfew. The Illinois National Guard provided aerial support during unrest and remains on standby to provide further assistance, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said.

Aurora has set another citywide curfew for 8:30 p.m. Monday.

Aurora Beacon-News reporter Sarah Freishtat contributed.

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(c)2020 the Chicago Tribune

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