A federal intelligence alert from the FBI field office in Chicago, Ill., warned that about 30 gangs in the city have made a pact to shoot police officers if they draw their weapons in public, ABC 7 reported on Monday.
Intelligence alerts are frequently distributed to law enforcement officials, especially if the alerts involve threats to an officer’s safety. This particular alert was based on “a contact whose reporting is limited and whose reliability cannot be determined,” meaning a street source, witness, or information obtained through surveillance.
The alert states that Chicago gangs have agreed to “shoot on-sight any cop that has a weapon drawn on any subject in public.”
“Members of these gang factions have been actively searching for, and filming, police officers in performance of their official duties,” the alert continues. “The purpose of which is to catch on film an officer drawing his/her weapon on any subject and the subsequent ‘shoot on-sight’ of said officer, in order to garner national media attention.”
In early August, mobs of people staged what appeared to be a coordinated spate of looting and vandalism at Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a stretch of high-end businesses in the city’s downtown. The looting occurred after police shot and arrested a suspect in the Englewood neighborhood. The looting was reportedly prompted by a rumor, which went viral on social media, that the cops had shot and killed a child, when in fact they had injured a 20-year-old man.
Chicago has seen a rise in murders and shootings since the death of George Floyd earlier this year, a surge in violence likely compounded by economic dislocation caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a rise in anti-police sentiment, which has reportedly led police in many cities to adopt less aggressive tactics. There were 2,749 shooting victims in the city as of Monday, up 917 from the same period last year.
Chicago police superintendent David Brown, who started his position several weeks before the Floyd protests, said on Monday that “a sense of lawlessness” has been observed by officers on the street. Brown also noted that the dangers for officers have dramatically increased.
“I think 51 officers being shot at or shot in one year, I think that quadruples any previous year in Chicago’s history,” Brown said. “So I think it’s more than a suggestion that people are seeking to do harm to cops.”