Chicago officials respond to unruly crowds downtown over the weekend

Chicago officials are reacting after unruly crowds gathered downtown and a shooting injured two teens near Millennium Park, and another teen was shot at a beach over the weekend.

The events included a turbulent Saturday night marked by a communication breakdown and infighting between city and police officials, and a flood of jarring videos that stoked outrage on social media, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The videos show large groups of people disrupting traffic, dancing on cars and CTA buses, and getting involved in fights, ABC 7 Chicago reported.

Downtown Alderman Brian Hopkins told the Sun-Times the gatherings fueled by social media devolved into three nights of "mayhem" because of a "total breakdown in command and control" at the Chicago Police Department.

"We've had more than our share of downtown mass arrest incidents going back over a decade. This is not new," Hopkins said. "What is new is to have it happen three days in a row."

Hopkins said interim police Supt. Eric Carter and Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott got into a shouting match Saturday night, and there was a heated disagreement between "Chicago police leadership and CTA management about who was in charge" of determining whether to cut off mass transit service to downtown.

Officers made 15 arrests during Saturday's mayhem, the Sun-Times reported. Hopkins said there could have been "dozens more" if not for the "hostility and violence" that confronted officers who attempted to move into the crowd. That included numerous reports of officers being punched, kicked and pelted with bottles and other objects.

Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson called the activity "unacceptable" but went on to say, "it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot also responded to the violence.

"We have taken steps, and will take steps to address these teen trends," she said. "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 said.

"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."

Two boys, ages 16 and 17, were among an unruly crowd that night on the 100 block of East Washington Street when they were shot, police said. The night before, a 14-year-old boy was wounded by gunfire after another large group gathering at 31st Street Beach.

The Chicago Police Department said in a statement Monday that additional security measures would be in place going forward, such as bag checks at beach entry points. The curfew for Millennium Park will also be in place.

Police also said they are working closely with youth and outreach workers for when the gatherings occur. Parents were also encouraged to accompany their teens or have them remain under the supervision of an adult.

A City Hall source told the Sun-Times that cops preemptively gauge a gathering's potential size by looking at how much engagement a post has received, though some can be "bogus" and some events can get canceled.

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