They understand why protesters and rioters have poured onto the streets of downtown, and some acknowledge that crime is worse in other parts of Chicago. Some also agree with protesters that something systemic needs to be changed.
But they don’t want to wait it out here in the city, fearful of stepping outside at night and hoping for things to maybe get better.
They want out.
“Not to make it all about us; the whole world is suffering,” said Amber, a 30-year-old nurse who lives in River North. “This is a minute factor in all of that, and we totally realize that. We are very lucky to have what we do have.
“But I do think that I’ve never had to think about my own safety in this way before.”
Incidents of widespread looting and soaring homicide figures in Chicago have made national news during an already tumultuous year. As a result, some say residents in affluent neighborhoods downtown, and on the North Side, no longer feel safe in the city’s epicenter and are looking to move away. Aldermen say they see their constituents leaving the city, and it’s a concern echoed by some real estate agents and the head of a sizable property management firm.
The temporary collapse of authority in many American cities, and the proposals of “defund the police” advocates to make that collapse permanent, has illustrated a timeless truth: When government authority dissolves, people will form their own armed enforcers of order. You will not get a peace-and-love utopia: You will instead get vigilante justice, posses, and lynchings. It will not be pretty; in Kenosha, Wis., it has already led to one well-publicized shooting. More force still will be needed to retake control. Come back with me to San Francisco in the 1850s to see how Americans learned this lesson once before.
San Francisco grew quickly from a late start. Europeans only reached the Bay Area in 1769, and the first permanent, civilian, non-Native American settlement dates only to 1835. The American conquest of California in 1847, and the gold rush in 1848-49, changed that in a heartbeat, turning a ramshackle town of 150 people in 1846 into a boomtown city of 25,000 in 1849, then 50,000 in 1853.
UPDATE: Some people are figuring it out, as this article in The Atlantic illustrates: The Violence Could Get Much Worse: Unless police and political leaders begin to crack down on the armed vigilantes monitoring protests, more bloodshed could soon follow the killings in Kenosha.
JAMES LILEKS ON THE LATEST ROUND OF LOOTING AND DESTRUCTION IN MINNEAPOLIS: “This cannot go on. It will go on. It will happen again, and again. I don’t mean officer-involved shooting. I mean destruction for the sake of destruction. It’s the new modus vivendi.”