Police swarm downtown Chicago after last weekend’s unrest

“We don’t know why there’s so many police. We’re a bit confused but we feel safe,” one woman said on her way out of Millennium Park.

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Dozens of Chicago police vehicles line East Randolph Street near Millennium Park in The Loop, Friday, April 21, 2023.

Dozens of Chicago police vehicles line East Randolph Street near Millennium Park Friday night.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

In response to a melee in the Loop last weekend during which two teens were shot and at least 15 people were arrested, the Chicago Police Department flooded Millennium Park with resources Friday night.

More than 60 CPD vehicles, including a mobile command center, lined Randolph Street near Michigan Avenue. Dozens more were scattered throughout the surrounding streets.

Officers also lined the streets, many near Randolph and Michigan, while pedestrians strolled by on their way into the park.

Many visitors didn’t seem aware of last weekend’s events or why so many police were around.

James Cobbs, a former Chicago resident who now lives in Terre Haute, Indiana, said he felt “protected” by the police even if he wasn’t sure why they were there — though one officer told him about a “teenager raid” in the Loop.

“If it brought out this kind of force, it must be something pretty serious,” Cobbs said.

Quincy Baker, a Millennium Park security guard, said the park did not add extra security this weekend but closed off many sections of the park.

”Last weekend caught us off guard so I think our supervisors just want to try and control the crowd,” Baker said.

Millennium Park security wave a baton around a woman at a security checkpoint at Millennium Park in The Loop, Friday, April 21, 2023.

Millennium Park security use a metal-detecting wand at a security checkpoint Friday night.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Laura Osborne was visiting Chicago for the first time from London and came to Millennium Park Friday night, where park security were checking people as they came in.

“We don’t know why there’s so many police. We’re a bit confused but we feel safe,” Osborne, 29, said after leaving the park.

A street vendor, who didn’t want to be identified, said he was stuck in the middle of the chaos last weekend.

”I just saw a bunch of teenagers, 13, 15, running around in the streets. I was afraid, I didn’t know if I was going to be hurt or robbed,” he said in Spanish. “I feel safer seeing the police out here.”

Tiara Smith, 24, a former South Side resident who recently moved to the south suburbs, said the melee was “expected” with how “younger people are acting these days,” though she hadn’t seen any issues Friday night.

“I haven’t seen anyone do anything,” Smith said. “It did happen last year. It might happen again next year. The kids are acting crazy.”

Chicago police officers stand and walk around East Randolph Street near Millennium Park in The Loop, Friday, April 21, 2023.

Chicago police officers on East Randolph Street near Millennium Park on Friday.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Cobbs said he’d like to see police find a motive from the teens who were arrested.

“We need to find out why the teenagers did what they did,” Cobbs said. “And then see if you can do anything to change it.”

Chicago police officials said other security measures were being taken, such as bag checks at beach entrances and a curfew for minors at Millennium Park.

The department also said it was keeping an eye on social media and keeping in contact with youth outreach groups as the night went on.

“We will continue working alongside our community organizations and leaders to provide safe spaces and alternatives for our youth across the city,” the department said in a statement issued Friday night.

Tourists at Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean,” in Millennium Park Friday night, April 21, 2023.

Tourists at Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean,” in Millennium Park Friday night.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

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