National Guard Deployed in Chicago ‘In a State of Readiness’ for Potential Election Unrest

November 3, 2020 Updated: November 3, 2020

Troops from the Illinois National Guard are in Chicago if there are riots or civil unrest after Election Day, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Pritzker said in a daily briefing that deploying the Guard to Chicago was a similar action that his administration took in September after the protests following the officer-involved killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.

“We’ve made sure that our National Guard is simply in a state of readiness,” the Democratic governor said.

Video footage and photos showed the National Guard arriving in the city’s McCormick Place Convention Center on the eve of Election Day.

“We want to make sure that cities, counties that call upon us for help from the state of Illinois, that we have those resources available to them,” Pritzker said, as reported by Fox News.

Pritzker said that it might be “Wednesday, or Thursday, or even Friday” before election results are in.

“It is very important that we are patient with the presidential election,” the governor said to reporters. “We may very well not know who won the election on Wednesday, let alone Tuesday night.”

Chicago city officials wrote on Twitter that Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, did not make the National Guard request.

J.B. Pritzker, Lori Lightfoot
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (L), announce a shelter in place order to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, right, listens, during a news conference in Chicago on March 20, 2020. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo)

“The City has not made any calls to deploy the National Guard in Chicago,” her office wrote. “Similar to past emergency preparedness plans, the State has stationed personnel at McCormick Place to be ready to respond if needed, however, there are currently no plans for them to be deployed.”

Chicago was one of many U.S. cities that were hit by rioting, unrest, protests, and vandalism in the wake of George Floyd’s death in May. Businesses were targeted by looters numerous times over the summer.

Several other states, including Oregon and Minnesota, have deployed the National Guard ahead of Election Day.

The Chicago Police Department wrote that it held additional First Amendment training sessions for officers this week.

“Ahead of the upcoming election, #ChicagoPolice officers are receiving First Amendment roll call training to ensure any large gatherings and demonstrations are safely facilitated,” the department wrote, adding it will “monitor all large gatherings and will work to peacefully resolve any tensions that may arise, in line with the Department’s mission to protect the lives and rights of all people in Chicago.”