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Unrest For 2nd Straight Night; Police Face Crowd At Bloomington Mall

Vandalism and looting continued for a second straight night in Bloomington-Normal, as police confronted crowds and made several arrests late Monday near the Kohl's store at Eastland Mall.

The situation escalated in the 11 p.m. hour, as looters removed merchandise from the store. At least seven police vehicles were on scene just after 11 p.m.

The Kohl's entrance was smashed in, with crowds in vehicles circling in the parking lot. A WGLT reporter on scene later heard a loud bang noise in the parking lot. About a dozen people were throwing objects at the store. Some of the looters exited their cars carrying bats.

Police on scene say anyone inside the store or mall is being arrested on burglary charges. A 12-year-old boy on scene told WGLT his mother was among those arrested. He said his mother wanted to steal something tonight and had other stops planned after Kohl's.

Later in the early morning hours, officers appeared to be rounding up potential suspects at various locations. A man bolted from a vehicle stopped in the westbound lanes of Empire Street and ran across the street toward Eastland Mall, where police tackled him in the berm. Other units sped to the Hustedt Jewelers parking lot on IAA Drive about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Police used different tactics on the second night of unrest. On the first night, officers concentrated forces at the entrances to stores such as Best Buy and Target. During the second iteration of the challenge from the looters, police leadership spread out units to block entry to parking lots and prevent the vandals from concentrating in swarms of vehicles. Some walked in from a bank parking lot or nearby doctor’s office lot near Kohl’s for instance.

Rumors again circulated about unrest at other locations in Bloomington-Normal. At least some of them proved untrue, although this is a developing story. Bloomington and Normal police departments said rumors about planned looting in residential areas did not appear to be credible.

Earlier Monday, Uptown Normal and Illinois State University braced themselves for possible unrest.

ISU closed all university facilities at 6:30 p.m. Monday "due to community concerns," officials announced.

Facilities will be closed "until further notice." ISU says "employees are asked to continue their work-from-home routine until further notice. Online instruction will continue."

Meanwhile, crews erected barriers and blocked off streets in Uptown Normal early Monday evening. At least one business was boarding up its windows. Businesses closed early.

The moves come after a round of looting late Sunday and early Monday. Looters hit Target and Walmart in Normal, as police protected other businesses. That comes even as peaceful demonstrators have staged events on three consecutive days across Bloomington-Normal. Those events have been focused on ending racism and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

Normal and Bloomington city officials have so far declined to enact a curfew for Monday night, although that could change if the situation deteriorates.

Breanna Grow is a correspondent for GLT. She joined the station in September 2018.
WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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