Outmanned cops struggled to tamp down ‘huge fight’ that broke out after Chicago Pride Fest in Northalsted

An officer was hospitalized with a back injury and a 20-year-old man was arrested during the chaotic incident early Monday.

SHARE Outmanned cops struggled to tamp down ‘huge fight’ that broke out after Chicago Pride Fest in Northalsted
“Boystown” banners along North Halsted Street.

“Boystown” banners hang along North Halsted Street.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A man was arrested and an officer was injured early Monday after “a large fight” broke out in Northalsted just hours after the Chicago Pride Fest wrapped up, police said.

Transmissions over police radio show that outmanned officers pleaded with dispatchers to send more squad cars to help break up the melee as they tried to quell the crowd.

Later Monday, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said he was still in the process of getting details about the “police resources overnight” in his ward. But Tunney said he remains “very concerned” about a shortage of manpower in the Town Hall District with this weekend’s massive Chicago Pride Parade on the horizon.

Monday’s chaos started around 2:45 a.m., when an officer initially reported “a huge fight” at the intersection of Halsted and Roscoe streets that he later said consisted of “about 75 people going crazy.”

“Ask other districts to send cars here,” the officer said over police radio. “This is absolutely wild.”

A few minutes later, an emergency officer in distress call — known as a “10-1” — was broadcast over the radio as a dispatcher continued to divert squad cars to the area. A short time later, an officer told a dispatcher that no one had been hurt, and responding officers were then told to “slow down” on their way to the scene.

But shortly before 3 a.m., another distress call was made when an officer was injured at the intersection of Halsted and Buckingham Place.

“We need more [police officers] here,” one cop said over the radio, prompting the dispatcher to again call for more backup from other police districts.

After an officer reported there were “still pockets of fighting” in the area around 3 a.m., another “slow down” was called over the radio. Minutes later, an officer told the dispatcher that people were still fighting and throwing bottles.

It wasn’t until shortly after 3 a.m. that officers from outside districts were sent back to their usual assignments.

A male officer suffered a back injury “while attempting to place an offender in custody,” police said. He was taken to a hospital in fair condition.

Reginald Bridges, 20, of East Garfield Park, was arrested and charged with felony counts of aggravated battery to a peace officer and restricting or obstructing a peace officer, police said. He’s expected in bond court Tuesday.

The crime blog CWB Chicago first reported on the fight.

The incident appears to illustrate the department’s deep-seated staffing issues. In May 2019, when Mayor Lori Lightfoot took office, there were 13,302 sworn officers and 391 assigned to the Town Hall District. But as of this month, those numbers had fallen to 11,638 and 281, respectively.

In March, after a 47-year-old man was fatally shot in his ward, Tunney bemoaned the diminishing police resources as “a citywide issue.” He told the Sun-Times, “Everybody needs more.”

“I don’t know what the right number is,” he said of the amount of sworn officers in the Town Hall District. “But I did have a commitment under the previous administration that we would maintain around 400.”

On Monday, Tunney said he’s concerned about police staffing not just last night and this weekend, but every night. He noted, however, that Chicago police officials have assured him there will be adequate resources to handle the Pride Parade and any associated partying.

The annual celebration of the LGBTQ+ community typically draws more than 100,000 people to the Northalsted area — along with a massive police presence. On June 13, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown told reporters that officials “shored up” intelligence gathering ahead of the parade after dozens of Neo-Nazis were arrested with riot gear near an Idaho Pride event.

“We are going to be vigilant to ensure that this event, as well as others, go off safely,” he said.

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