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East Peoria Council Condemns Recent Looting

Tim Shelley / Peoria Public Radio

East Peoria commissioners say they support peaceful protest - but when it turns violent, they draw the line.

"I want to take that opportunity tonight to encourage people to get involved to try to make good changes for our society," said commissioner Dan Decker. "When it comes to the other things, the opportunistic stealing, the damage, I hope that we can all come together and point out those who should not be trying to take part in something that's good and turn it into something that's bad."

Decker said the East Peoria Police Department supports peaceful protests.

Commissioner Mark Hill said the peaceful We Matter March in Peoria last Saturday was the right way to protest police brutality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But he also said there are others taking advantage of the unrest.

"We've got a criminal element that is actually haunting our area the last few nights," said Hill. "And again, they're doing it under the guise of civil rights. They're taking away from the real meaning of what should be going on."

A small arson fire was started at Lowe's on Saturday. A group of people also confronted police at the East Peoria Walmart. Police broke up the crowd with pepper balls. Several area police departments responded.

Numerous looting, shooting, and arson fire incidents have been reported in Peoria over the last couple days.

"The actions of looting are not protesting," said Hill. "It's criminal. People think that they have the right to break in and take other peoples' property that they haven't worked for and they haven't earned it. That's criminal."

Commissioner Seth Mingus said he didn't see Saturday's incidents firsthand, but heard about them quickly.

"Saturday night, you know, you start getting messages, you see what's going on in East Peoria? Do you see what's going on? And then you get on Facebook Live and see," said commissioner Seth Mingus. "That was a sad situation."

He said as a father, it's been difficult to explain to his children why businesses in the Levee District are boarding up windows with plywood.

Commissioner Mike Sutherland said some are using Floyd's death as an excuse to cause chaos.

"As far as I'm concerned, these people are truly evil," he said. "I hope our Tri-County courts all get together and show them no mercy, because when they all get arrested, and they will get arrested, it's not going to be a revolving door for them."

Sutherland says he hopes the "politicians have the guts to do the right thing."

Mayor John Kahl said the Minneapolis police officers were outliers.

"What happened to George Floyd was unacceptable. Quite honestly, it was despicable. And it pains me to sit here and watch law enforcement lumped together as a group for the actions of a select few," said Kahl.

The mayor said the city council will continue to keep East Peoria citizens safe "at any cost."

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