After the Windy City was selected to host the Democratic Party’s 2024 Convention, hundreds of teenagers rioted in the Loop over the weekend.
How it started:
“Good morning Chicago! It’s a beautiful, sunny day. I encourage you all to spend time outdoors, connect with your neighbors, and enjoy the sunshine and our beautiful city after a long winter. Let’s keep this feeling of unity and optimism alive — and bright days are ahead!”
— Mayor-Elect Brandon Johnson, Twitter. 10:11 am — April 15, 2023.
How it’s going:
“In no way do I condone the destructive activity we saw in the Loop and lakefront this weekend.
It is unacceptable and has no place in our city. However, it is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in their own communities.”
“Our city must work together to create spaces for youth to gather safely and responsibly, under adult guidance and supervision, to ensure that every part of our city remains welcome for both residents and visitors. This is one aspect of my comprehensive approach to improve public safety and make Chicago livable for everyone.”
— Mayor-Elect Brandon Johnson, Twitter. 7:04 pm — April 16, 2023.
The reason for the shift was simple:
“Hundreds of teens cause fiery chaos in Downton Chicago as they torch cars in rampage organized on social media: Vastly outnumbered police manage just 15 arrests,” reported Vanessa Serna and James Gordan for the UK’s Daily Mail on April 16, 2023.
Chicago authorities seem to have been expecting such a scene to unfold.
“After year’s first ‘large group’ incident at Millennium Park, concerns mount about safety this summer,” reported CBS Chicago on April 13.
“Millennium Park is a safe and welcoming space for everyone,” began a safety and security outline provided by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events after the first incident.
“Again this summer, guests will be required to enter all Pritzker Pavilion events (concerts, films and more) through special entrances off Randolph and Monroe streets. Visit Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain and other attractions via entrances off Michigan Avenue.”
“Also continuing in 2023, guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult (21 years and older) after 6pm, Thursday through Sunday — and may be asked to present a valid ID. The adult must be present for the duration of the visit and may escort up to four young people.”
Whatever security measures were in place in Millennium Park, they didn’t work. The riots continued into the following nights and escalated quickly into violence and chaos.
“A woman whose car was smashed by people jumping on the windshield said her husband was beaten as he sat in the driver’s seat,” reported FOX 32 on April 15, 2023. “He’s been taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.”
“2 boys shot, several people arrested as another ‘large group’ overwhelms Chicago police in the Loop,” reported CWB Chicago on April 16, 2023. “Two teenagers were shot Saturday night as hundreds of people descended on the Loop, jumping on vehicles, getting into fights, and overwhelming Chicago police resources for the third consecutive night.”
“I very much hope that our next mayor will take some measures to solve this issue of violent crime in our city,” Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce President Bill Morton said on Sunday during a press conference. “This is killing our small businesses. This is causing an exodus outside of the state of Illinois and outside the city of Chicago. We’re losing revenue in the city of Chicago. We’re losing residents in the city of Chicago. we’re losing residents in the state of Illinois, something has to be done about this.”
This most recent outbreak of lawlessness occurred in tandem with an announcement last week that Walmart will be following Citicorp and Boeing out of Chicago.
“Walmart closes 4 Chicago locations permanently, leaving residents with fewer shopping options,” reported ABC 7 on April 16, 2023.
“The simplest explanation is that collectively our Chicago stores have not been profitable since we opened the first one 17 years ago,” said Walmart in a statement about the store closures. “These stores lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and their annual losses nearly doubled in just the last five years.”
Chicago’s current embattled Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, issued this statement after the weekend’s events:
“Twice in the last few days, several large groups of young people have gathered across the city. Many of them were there to have a good time and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.
However, some of those young people were involved in reckless, disrespectful and unlawful behavior. As I have said before, we as a city cannot and will not allow any of our public spaces to become a platform for criminal conduct. Most importantly, parents and guardians must know where their children are and be responsible for their actions. Instilling the important values of respect for people and property must begin at home.
I appreciate the individuals and business people who have reached out to me to express concerns. I have shared those concerns with the acting Superintendent and senior leadership within the Police Department in very candid and productive conversations.
CPD leadership has assured me that they will make the necessary adjustments to address these teen trends issues as we move into the summer months.
We have invested millions of dollars to support community-based organizations to partner with youth to co-activate fun, safe spaces all over the City throughout the year. We ask parents to partner with us by making sure that your children’s plans are safe and that they know when to exit a situation before it becomes unsafe.”
— Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Chicago isn’t alone in its troubles with social-media-organized mass looting incidents.
“Compton deputies back on patrol following gas station looting,” reported ABC 7 Eyewitness News on April 17. “LASD said deputies ‘couldn’t intervene with the giant takeover groups for safety concerns’ and because they were outnumbered.”
“Video captured a wild scene at an Arco gas station near Alondra Boulevard and Central Avenue early Sunday morning where a large group was caught on video bum-rushing an Arco gas station and stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise, all while the clerk on duty hid inside.”
Video in Chicago captured similar “wild scenes”.
And captured them.
And captured them.
And captured them, with more than a few news outlets recording the weekend’s events for posterity.
Despite the violence, and the likelihood of it increasing — as it always does — during the warmer months of Summer, Chicago was selected to host the DNCC Democratic Party’s National Convention in 2024.
“Democrats place big bet on Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson by tapping Chicago for ’24 convention,” reported the Chicago Tribune on Sunday.
“A party’s national convention gives the host city’s mayor a chance to raise their profile and that of their city by calling attention to their initiatives and how they are succeeding,” wrote John Byrne and Rick Pearson for the Tribune.
They never mentioned the weekend’s unrest once.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)