Illinois National Guard completes mission of protecting First Amendment rights

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National Guard
Members of the Illinois National Guard were stationed at River Oaks Mall following the May 31 looting that occurred there. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

More than 300 peaceful protests took place throughout the state

information provided by the Office of the Governor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (June 16, 2020) – As the Illinois National Guard completes its mission in support of municipalities across the state, the administration is continuing to work with local governments to protect Illinois residents and safeguard their rights to peacefully protest. The Illinois State Police (ISP) and Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will continue to work with local governments to address the needs of local communities as they arise.

“I am grateful to the brave men and women of the Illinois National Guard whose work, alongside the Illinois State Police, allowed Illinois residents to safely exercise their right to protest and helped protect communities and local businesses throughout the state,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “As we move forward, we must pair protest with policy. That means investing in communities of color and reforming our broken systems of law enforcement and criminal justice. I am committed to working with our partners in the General Assembly and community leaders across our state to get this done.”

Thanks to Illinois’ mutual aid networks and the assistance of citizen soldiers and airmen from the Illinois National Guard (ILNG), more than 300 peaceful protests took place throughout the state over the past weeks, allowing citizens the ability to exercise their First Amendment right and draw light to racial injustice in our country.

On May 31, Governor JB Pritzker activated about 375 Illinois National Guard soldiers following a request from the City of Chicago to support local law enforcement. An additional 550 soldiers and airmen were activated in the coming days to support Illinois State Police operations throughout the state. The Illinois National Guard troops allowed for the reallocation of personnel within the Illinois State Police and municipal police departments.

The ISP mobilized 430 officers from outside Divisions to assist with the statewide protests and civil unrest. These additional officers supplemented the nearly 985 available Troopers in the Division of Patrol. Troops from the ILNG joined the ISP and local law enforcement to assist by securing street closures, controlling traffic flow, and providing security at locations that had been targeted by looters and vandals.

Members of the Illinois National Guard were stationed at River Oaks Mall following the May 31 looting that occurred there. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

“The Illinois National Guard are citizen-soldiers, drawn from every community in Illinois to help when we are needed,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “I’m thankful to our communities and their support of our Illinois National Guard members. During these difficult times, we were reminded time and again of the generous kind-hearted nature of our communities and their members who came out to show support of our Guardsmen and women who were on mission. Makes you proud to be from Illinois.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Department of Public Health is recommending that anyone who participated in recent protests should seek a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they are exhibiting symptoms. These tests are offered for free and without proof of insurance at any of the state-managed Community Based Testing Sites. To learn more about the availability of COVID-19 testing, visit, www.coronavirus.illinois.gov.