After a teenager was shot and killed near The Bean, Mayor Lori Lightfoot banned unaccompanied minors from visiting Millennium Park after 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, a policy aimed at preventing large crowds of teenagers from creating chaos, but which inspired criticism from civil libertarians.
The move recalls Lightfoot’s decision throughout 2020 to raise bridges downtown to prevent potential looters or other criminals from entering the Loop. The move drew heavy criticism from residents who said the city was making downtown inhospitable to black and brown residents on the south and west sides, although Lightfoot defended lifting the bridge if necessary to prevent civil unrest.
“Tragically, a young person – a teenager – lost his life last night in Millennium Park. I suspect that an overwhelming majority of young people who were in the park were there to have a good time and enjoy a summer evening But the scene has turned into chaos and unnecessary violence,” Lightfoot, who has spent much of the past week in Texas, said in a statement. “We, as a city, cannot allow any of our public spaces from becoming platforms of danger. Anyone entering our public spaces should expect to enjoy them peacefully and should respect and exhibit basic community standards of decency. We simply will not accept anything less.
It’s unclear what legal authority Lightfoot relies on to implement the new policy, and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The teenager who was fatally shot during an ‘altercation’ at The Bean on Saturday night was identified on Sunday as Seandell Holliday, who lived at West 112th Place in the Roseland neighborhood, according to the county medical examiner’s office by Cook. Police say two people, including a 17-year-old boy believed to be the shooter, were arrested in the park shortly after the shooting, according to a police report.
On Sunday afternoon, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown and several other officials announced the city’s plan. “I want to encourage young people and their parents to enjoy the city center but under adult supervision,” he told a press conference, alongside police and city officials. .
“This new policy will be strictly enforced and violations will be dealt with promptly,” warned Ann Hickey, deputy commissioner of operations for the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
Chicago Public Schools officials said they plan to send parents a communication Monday reminding them of summer programs for youth across the city. CPS officials also planned to start “positive” conversations with students, principals and parents about safety, adding that local school boards would be included, said Jadine Chou, the CPS’s safety and security officer. SPC.
Brown blamed large crowds on anonymous social media posts telling teenagers to come downtown. The social media posts were also responsible for large crowds in North Avenue Beach that poured into neighborhood streets, as well as a rally in Jackson Park last week that ended in a shooting. At least 26 minors and five adults were arrested during Saturday’s unrest and eight firearms were recovered, police said.
“We don’t know if (the rallies are) for nefarious reasons, or just a gathering point for a lot of young people,” Brown said.
Brown tried to walk the line, saying the agencies wanted to partner with parents, not blame them directly for the abuse.
“It’s not a ‘point a finger at a parent and say you’re a bad parent.’ It’s a tough time to be a parent,” Brown said before adding that he understands what drives teens to the streets on hot nights.
“It is a difficult time for young people who are dealing with the pandemic that is plaguing schools. The stop. They want to go out like most adults. It’s just for the younger ones, they don’t understand how quickly things can happen and how to resolve conflicts without ending up in violence.
The ban on unaccompanied teenagers comes at a sensitive time for the city and for the mayor. Downtown Chicago has still not fully recovered from the economic turmoil triggered by COVID-19 or two rounds of looting in the summer of 2020 and it has seen an upsurge in crime that has the world of business, residents and city hall. Lightfoot, who is widely expected to seek re-election, has come under pressure to address violence and chaos in the city that has increased dramatically in 2020 and remains high.
Edwin C. Yohnka, director of communications and public policy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the ban suggests the park should not be accessible to all Chicago residents.
“The vague description – relying on an indefinite ‘responsible adult’ – allowing young people to be present in the park and the promise of strict enforcement will lead to unnecessary stops and arrests and further tension between the CPD and the young people of color,” Yohnka mentioned.
On Sunday, hundreds of people, mostly families with young children and tourists, took photos in Millennium Park under threatening skies and a light drizzle, most unaware of the heavy police presence the day before.
Sculptor Anish Kapoor created The Bean, 201 E. Randolph St., which is the nickname of the sculpture – officially known as Cloud Gate. It was dedicated to the park on May 15, 2006.
Saturday’s shooting didn’t deter Yasmin El-Tigani and her husband, Adam Sadkowski, from visiting the iconic art installation with their two children and goldendoodle Nilee, though it kept them on high alert.
“It bothers me because it’s supposed to be a safe place,” El-Tigani said as her daughter, Alya, 10, and son Zaiden played with their dog against the sculpture. “You have to care about your family, your kids and make sure you’re not in danger.”
The couple brought their kids downtown so they could participate in the Hustle Chicago stair climbing event at Soldier Field and celebrate El-Tigani’s 39th birthday. Residents of the western suburb of Lisle, the couple said they have only been to the town twice this year.
“(The violence) stays in the back of your mind,” said Sadkowski, 49. “Crime seems to affect crime in neighborhoods that were safer in the past. That’s our thought process.
Saturday’s shooting happened around 7.30pm in the 200 block of East Randolph Street. Around the same time, police were responding ‘in the Downtown and Millennium Park area’ to what they saw as a significant crowd ‘disruption’ – which led to the arrest of dozens of minors , two police officers injured and seven weapons recovered. Two of these guns were in the possession of the two people who were still being questioned by detectives on Sunday afternoon in connection with the homicide at The Bean.
The teenager was shot at least once in the chest and paramedics rushed him to Lurie Children’s Hospital, initially in critical condition, according to Larry Merritt, a spokesman for the fire department . He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 8:12 p.m., according to police and the medical examiner’s office.
It was unclear how many of the hundreds of teenagers believed to be involved in the downtown unrest were nearby when the shooting happened, and a police representative declined to answer questions about the correlation and the overlap between the deadly shooting and unrest in the same area at the same time.
But the police report suggests that Holliday and the shooter were part of a group of teenagers. The report, citing police and Park District CCTV which captured the shooting, said: “The victim, along with numerous other people, appear to be in an altercation with the (17-year-old) … near The Bean in the Millennium Park.
“The crowd, along with the victim, follows (the 17-year-old) out to Madison and Michigan. At this point, the victim jumps onto (the 17-year-old’s) back. A shot is heard,” and the suspected shooter ran south through the park where he was taken into custody a short distance away, according to the police report.
A second man, whose age was not stated in the police report, was also “seen in the vicinity of (the 17-year-old) at the time of his arrest”. He was also seen pulling a gun from his belt, but the police report says he didn’t pull the gun until after Holliday was shot. When he saw officers coming towards him, he also began to run, according to the report, but was arrested and detained after a brief foot chase.
The gun the second man pulled from his belt was a ghost gun, meaning it has no serial number and cannot be found, according to the police report. The term applies to firearms that are often assembled from kits, frequently sold online, without buyers needing to check their background – a standard requirement for buyers when buying firearms ordinary guns from a federally licensed firearms dealer. The loophole makes ghost guns easier to acquire for anyone, including minors, criminals and other prohibited buyers, who would otherwise not be allowed to own a firearm.
In addition to the 26 minors arrested downtown on Saturday night, police said four adults were also arrested. Seven firearms were recovered and there were five arrests related to firearm possession.
Two police officers were also injured while dispersing the crowd, but police did not provide information on how they were injured or what types of injuries they sustained.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot released a statement following the shooting on Saturday night, calling the “senseless loss of life” “totally unacceptable”.
“Tonight a mother is grieving, mourning the loss of her child and searching for answers. My heart breaks for the mother as she mourns this indescribable loss,” she said.
Tatyana Turner of the Chicago Tribune contributed.