‘It’s just wild:’ Street takeovers continue throughout weekend, leading to clashes with cops but only a few arrests
A 19-year-old suburban man is facing felony charges for allegedly driving toward a police sergeant, and another man had his car impounded — but otherwise, the mayhem went on for two straight nights.
Stunt drivers and spectators flooded Chicago streets for a second straight weekend night, disturbing residents, attacking cops and damaging police cars during some of the unsanctioned events that allegedly drew participants from across the country.
Chicago police officials couldn’t immediately provide details about the latest round of so-called street takeovers early Sunday. But in a statement, the department said some officers “were assaulted with bricks and bottles.”
Six police cars were also damaged at one event at the intersection of Cermak Road and Lumber Street on the Lower West Side, a spokesperson said. No officers were injured, and no arrests were made.
Videos posted online show a group of people striking and throwing objects at a police SUV, which can be seen driving toward the crowd as other police vehicles sit in the background.
The Chicago Sun-Times has previously reported on the city’s burgeoning underground car culture, powered by social media campaigns directing hundreds of people to certain intersections. The meets have scattered across the city, pulling drivers to industrial parks, empty mall parking lots and even the downtown area — to the chagrin of local residents and their alderpersons.
Andrea Graneas was awoken early Sunday by the sound of revving engines and screeching tires outside her West Loop condominium. She said she was “floored” when she saw drivers drifting through the intersection of Madison and Morgan streets.
Videos she took show dozens of vehicles blocking off streets as a large group of bystanders watch cars spinning in circles, with one kicking up clouds of smoke from its back tires as people hung out the windows and others ran into the center of the intersection.
“I’ve lived in the West Loop since ’96 and this has never, ever occurred here before,” Graneas told the Sun-Times. “It’s just wild.”
She said she was particularly “baffled at the fact that people were standing so close” to the action “without any fear of getting hurt.”
“They could’ve also crashed into buildings,” she said. “But it didn’t look like their intention was to crash their cars. They were just putting on a show, it seemed, of [doing] donuts.”
At least three men arrested
The meetup in the West Loop came amid a chaotic weekend that started with onlookers clashing with the cops late Friday on the Far South Side. That gathering had been advertised on social media as a “wild” event pitting “Chicago vs. Everybody,” with drivers coming from Detroit, the Bay Area and other parts of the country.
Within hours, two 18-year-old men were arrested at another takeover early Saturday on the Near South Side. One was charged with a misdemeanor count of reckless conduct, while the other had his car impounded — apparently the first taken under a new city ordinance aimed at getting a handle on the street takeovers.
Omar Daaboul, 19, from Worth, was also arrested early that morning after he allegedly drove toward a police sergeant trying to stop him in the 500 block of South Clinton Street.
He faces a felony count of aggravated assault of a peace officer, in addition to lesser offenses. A police spokesperson didn’t respond when asked whether Daaboul’s car was impounded.
During his initial court hearing Sunday, prosecutors said officers “investigating a drag racing incident” saw Daaboul standing next to a vehicle that was allegedly involved. When the sergeant approached him, prosecutors said Daaboul hopped into his Dodge Challenger, backed into a vehicle and then drove forward toward the sergeant.
Reading from Daaboul’s arrest report, Judge Charles Beach noted the sergeant had to jump out of the Challenger’s path and another officer had to break a window to get him out of the car. He was on probation at the time after pleading guilty in a felony gun case in May, court records show.
Daaboul’s attorney, Steven Muslin, asked for a reasonable bond, noting there’s no evidence that he had a weapon during Saturday’s arrest. “Nobody was injured, thank God,” Muslin said.
The judge ordered Daaboul held without bail for violating the terms of his probation and set bail at $30,000 in the new case. He’s expected in court again on Monday.
Another drifting event scheduled for Sunday night was canceled “due to major police activity,” according to an announcement posted online.
Mayor, top cop ‘failing completely’ in addressing takeovers
A police spokesperson noted that stunt gatherings are “not only illegal in the streets of Chicago but are also dangerous to the drivers and spectators.”
“The Chicago Police Department will enforce the recently passed City ordinance, which holds those participating in drag racing and drifting accountable,” the spokesperson said. “Those who are caught violating the ordinance could have their vehicles impounded and face a fine of up to $10,000.”
But Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) complained that his colleagues in City Council have “acted very timidly” in addressing the illegal events. He criticized a provision in the new ordinance that requires police to mail the owner “a notice of intent to impound,” along with a statement of probable cause and a police report.
“Being able to impound the cars, but only after they’re stopped and caught later, doesn’t address the immediacy of the situations as they’re unfolding in our communities,” he said.
A mayoral candidate and vocal critic of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Lopez claimed she and Chicago Police Supt. David Brown are “failing completely” in addressing the street takeovers and have effectively allowed participants to target officers and destroy police vehicles “without consequence.”
Lopez said members of the National Guard should be called in to cover for officers being pulled away from places like “the Bean” and the Magnificent Mile to respond to the drag racing events. “They can do the babysitting there,” he said of the National Guard.
He added that officials from the Illinois State Police and the Cook County sheriff’s office should be used to “augment” the response to the takeovers, which can spring up in a matter of minutes and have left officers overwhelmed. In addition, he recommended using salt trucks and snow plows to “corral and pin” the stunt drivers, allowing officers to arrest them and impound their vehicles onsite.
“The moment we show there’s consequences, this nonsense will come to an end,” he said. “Until then, expect it to continue.”
Contributing: Manny Ramos