Chicago Mayor Begs Businesses To Stay as Major Retailer Mulls Abandoning City


Portions of Chicago have resembled combat zones for years.

But in recent weeks, roaming groups of rioters have used the May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis as a pretext to loot and destroy businesses both big and small in the Windy City.

The response from the city’s Democratic leaders has been less than aggressive — and now they’re facing the potential repercussions of that approach.

National retail chain locations have been attacked, looted or burned and are now closed in many parts of the city, as was outlined June 1 by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Walmart, according to reports, might not come back, at least not fully.

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WBBM-AM in Chicago reported the Arkansas-based retail giant is assessing which of its locations in the city are worth salvaging after criminals ransacked the stores during unchecked looting.

There isn’t a timetable for when that corporate evaluation will be completed, but Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, whose job it is to protect her city, is now pleading with Walmart and other retailers not to leave the market.

“My hope is that they will come back,” Lightfoot said of Walmart’s evaluation of how to proceed in Chicago.

The mayor made the comments after she spoke with a number of retailers that have locations closed due to damage.

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Per Lightfoot, most companies will stand by the city, but Walmart has not committed to anything.

“But I got a resounding, ‘Mayor, this is our city, this is our home,’ from a lot of other retailers, and I would hope that Walmart would follow suit,” the mayor said.

But what rational corporate leadership would want to conduct business in such a volatile environment?

Leaders in Chicago are completely lost, as is outlined in a report of a recent online conference call between Lightfoot and the city’s 50 aldermen regarding the destruction of businesses by looters.

A May 31 conversation reported by WTTW-TV shows the city’s leaders profanely attacked each other over the riots.

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“Lightfoot vowed to launch a ‘Herculean effort’ to convince businesses to rebuild and reopen,” the outlet reported.

“Lightfoot said she had no choice but to shut down the [Chicago Transit Authority] after reports buses were being ‘commandeered’ by ‘anarchists.’

“[Third Ward Ald. Pat Dowell] asked Lightfoot to use the National Guard to protect grocery stores and pharmacies, but the mayor said ‘they are not a magic tool, they are the military.’

“In other cities, National Guard troops have made things worse, ‘not better,’ Lightfoot said.

“[18th Ward Ald. Derrick Curtis] said he had called 911 to report looting, and got no answer. Rich Guidice, the director of the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, acknowledged that the system was overwhelmed.

“‘There are no easy answers here,’ Lightfoot said. …

“[15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez] demanded that Lightfoot develop a plan to stabilize Chicago’s neighborhoods for five days, calling his Southwest Side ward ‘a virtual war zone’ where gang members armed with AK-47’s were threatening to shoot black people.”

“The call came to a screeching halt when Lightfoot declined to address the substance of Lopez’s remarks, and Lopez demanded that she respond.

“Lightfoot told Lopez he was ‘100% full of s—.’

“‘Well, f— you then,’ Lopez responded.

“‘I understand you want to preen,’ Lightfoot told Lopez.

“As aldermen objected, Lopez continued to speak.

“‘Mayor, you need to check your f—ing attitude,’ Lopez said.”

It is abundantly clear from the call that Chicago’s Democratic leaders don’t have the answers to the city’s problems, nor are they willing to come together to take control back from the mobs.

As American cities have burned in recent weeks, the messaging from radical demonstrators and the Democratic public officials who support them has been to dither or place blame on law enforcement.

Some are even screaming to defund police departments; a veto-proof majority of Minneapolis City Council members declared Sunday they would do just that, KMSP-TV reported.

The reluctance of leaders in Chicago to enforce law and order has caused tangible damage to businesses and their bottom lines.

Their rhetoric and feebleness don’t give any indication that the madness will end any time soon.

While many corporations across the country have virtue-signaled their way through the pandemic and now the civil unrest, whether Walmart decides to give Chicago another shot likely will be a purely business decision.

If Lightfoot is unwilling to guarantee the retail giant basic security and safety, there is no reason Walmart should be willing to assume the risk of sticking around.

The company’s decision will be dependent on how its leadership views the viability of a market in which Lightfoot and Democrats appear to have lost all control.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.