CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker activated the Illinois National Guard Monday ahead of an expected verdict in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with George Floyd’s death.
The move was in response to a request from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Pritzker’s office said 125 personnel would be deployed starting Tuesday to support Chicago police. Their “limited mission” would include helping manage street closures during demonstrations, Pritzker’s office said.
Former officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, faces murder and manslaughter charges after pinning his knee against Floyd’s neck last May. Disturbing video footage of Floyd’s death prompted demonstrations and calls for racial justice nationwide. In Chicago, chaos followed some protests. The case went to the jury Monday.
“It is critical that those who wish to peacefully protest against the systemic racism and injustice that holds back too many of our communities continue to be able to do so,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Members of the Guard and the Illinois State Police will support the City of Chicago’s efforts to protect the rights of peaceful protestors and keep our families safe.”
In the same statement, Lightfoot explained that she made the request “out of an abundance of caution,” saying there weren’t any known threats.