57 arrested, mostly juveniles, in Chicago during unruly Fourth of July
Chicago police have periodically dealt with large crowds of teens who gather in the downtown area during the warm months
By Morgan Greene
CHICAGO — Hundreds of young people and Chicago police officers flooded the Loop on the Fourth of July, leading to 57 arrests as fireworks exploded in densely populated areas.
About 8:30 p.m., the contents of a dumpster burned on North Garland Court. When the Chicago Fire Department arrived to extinguish the flames, a firework went off around the corner. An hour later, another dumpster fire blazed on Garland to the west of the Chicago Cultural Center.
Someone set off fireworks in front of a Staples office supply store at North Wabash Avenue and East Washington Street, sending tiny bursts cascading above the street.
A police supervisor picked up a Roman candle as a crowd of people ran by.
About 9:35 p.m., another group surrounded a car and some people jumped on top of it near the Washington and Wabash “L” station.
On Washington, a couple of blocks from Millennium Park, a large group rushed east as police handcuffed a woman in the middle of the street.
Then, Roman candles were set off on Washingtonas cars were stopped in traffic. A few minutes later, large bursts lit up the sky a block west.
Shortly before 11 p.m., police began moving crowds west, chanting “move back” as groups headed toward Wabash. Loud booms continued to go off. Someone bashed a car going down the street.
As crowds dissipated, some small groups stopped to dance. On State Street, someone jumped on a squad car momentarily before crowds continued south.
On Monday, police spokesman Don Terry said the total number of arrests made was 57 — 50 juveniles and 7 adults, mostly on juvenile charges.
“The kids were dispersed last night and this morning,” Terry said. “The situation’s back to normal.”
For about a decade, Chicago police have periodically dealt with large crowds of teens who gather in the downtown area to spend time along the lakefront, Water Tower Place, Millennium Park or other spots when the weather starts to warm up.
Police officials implemented strategies under previous department administrations to address the incidents, which often are coordinated via text messages or social networking websites, in downtown and nearby neighborhoods. Police said the youths in many cases come downtown from the South and West sides using mass transit.
However, police have stressed that this phenomenon, involving large groups of teens, is not unique to Chicago. Philadelphia has had problems with groups of teenagers, who also used social networking, assaulting pedestrians and vandalizing property since at least 2010, according to media reports.
On Sunday, Millennium Park was closed early.
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