Officials in Chicago are taking action after rowdy crowds gathered in the city center, two youths were shot and injured in Millennium Park, and another teen was shot at a beach over the weekend.
The Chicago Sun-Times stated that the events featured a tumultuous Saturday night highlighted by a communication breakdown and infighting between city and police officials as well as a deluge of shocking videos that fanned fury on social media.
According to ABC 7 Chicago, the videos show large groups of people fighting, dancing on cars and CTA buses, and obstructing traffic.
Downtown Alderman Brian Hopkins told the Sun-Times that the Chicago Police Department’s “total breakdown in command and control” was why the social media-fueled meetings turned into three nights of “mayhem.”
“We’ve had more than our share of downtown mass arrest incidents going back over a decade. This is not new,” Hopkins stated. “What is new is to have it happen three days in a row.”
Hopkins claimed a heated argument between “Chicago police leadership and CTA management about who was in charge” of deciding whether to discontinue mass transit service to downtown and that interim police Supt. Eric Carter and Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott engaged in a shouting match on Saturday night.
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The Sun-Times stated that during Saturday’s chaos, police made 15 arrests. Hopkins claimed that if it weren’t for the “hostility and violence” that confronted officers trying to enter the crowd, there might have been “dozens more.” Numerous accounts of officers being kicked, assaulted, and pelted with bottles and other items were also mentioned.
Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson deemed the behavior “unacceptable” but said, “It is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the violence as well.
“We have taken steps, and we will take steps to address these teen trends,” she declared. “It’s not the first time that we’ve addressed these issues, but our young people have an opportunity and a right to enjoy the entirety of our city, but they have to do it in a way that is respectful for people and property. And we did address that over the weekend, and we will continue to address it,” Lightfoot added.
“The vast majority of young people that came downtown because it was a great weather and an opportunity to enjoy the city, that’s absolutely entirely appropriate. There are a few that came with different intentions, and they have, and they will be dealt with.”
A rowdy crowd was there that night on the 100 block of East Washington Street when two lads, 16 and 17, were shot. A 14-year-old child was shot at 31st Street Beach the previous evening following another sizable gathering.
Additional security measures, including bag inspections at beach entry points, would be implemented moving forward, the Chicago Police Department said in a statement on Monday. There will also be a curfew for Millennium Park.
In preparation for the events, police coordinated closely with youth and outreach workers. Parents were also urged to accompany their children or to keep them with an adult for the trip.
The Sun-Times was informed by a City Hall source that police beforehand estimate the size of a gathering by examining the amount of engagement a post has had. However, some meetings may be “bogus” and specific conferences may be canceled.
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