Teen takeover drags on 6 hours in Lake View the day after Pride Parade

Video posted to social media shows teenagers dancing, often lewdly, in the street and on top of cars, vans, a police squad car and a CTA bus.

SHARE Teen takeover drags on 6 hours in Lake View the day after Pride Parade
The Belmont CTA station.

Partying teens shut down Belmont Avenue near the CTA station for several hours starting about 9 pm. Monday.

Justin Jackson

Lake View Ald. Bennett Lawson (44th) on Tuesday condemned as “absolutely unacceptable” a day-after-Pride-Parade event that turned into a six-hour-long street takeover by hundreds of rowdy teenagers.

Video posted on social media showed teenagers dancing, often lewdly, in the street and on top of cars, vans, a police squad car and a CTA bus.

The incident started before 9 p.m. Monday with a few dozen young people and quickly escalated to more than 300 after word spread on social media and more revelers arrived at the Belmont CTA station.

Belmont Avenue, a main artery leading to and from the lakefront, was shut down for hours by a crowd that blocked the street. Police were initially outnumbered and did not disperse the crowd until well after 3 a.m.

Lawson vented his anger about the gathering near the Belmont L stop in a “Dear Neighbors” email to constituents Tuesday.

“I am deeply frustrated that what should have been a weekend of celebration for our LGBTQ+ community turned into an unsafe and disturbing situation the past two nights for our neighbors,” he wrote.

In a follow-up interview with the Sun-Times, Lawson said police “actually did a very good job of containing the situation as opposed to letting it spill out throughout the neighborhood.”

A similar event occurred last year, so even though police were anticipating this year’s gathering, “it got bigger than they expected,” Lawson said.

Even so, he said, “It was handled better than certainly it was last year, when we had shootings after Pride. We had no shootings or stabbings this year,” Lawson said.

“We need to plan for this again for next year. We need to work with our partners, whether through Streets and San for barricades or with CTA, about access. Those are both issues from what I’m hearing [about] last night. We have that for the parade. That’s a well-oiled machine in many ways and a much bigger event. We need to look at these smaller pop-up groups in the same way to better plan for them.”

Lawson said it “would have been wise” for CTA trains to bypass Belmont to help contain the crowd.

“I spoke to CTA to make sure if there was a communications issue. I know there was some issues with buses that didn’t understand the reroute until they got all the way to Clark or Sheffield on the other side. I want to make sure we don’t have those [issues] going forward.”

Rich Guidice, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s chief of staff, acknowledged the takeover caught police a bit off guard.

“There wasn’t many likes on these social media posts, which means the situation ramped up pretty quickly. Ultimately, you had hundreds of kids out there on the streets. I don’t think it got completely cleared up until around 3 o’clock in the morning,” Guidice said.

“This is the day after Pride Parade. We had a long night the night before as well. So CPD was staffed accordingly, and fortunately, had enough eyes on the ground to watch this situation, and as it mobilized, they adjusted resources. They just bring people in from different close-by locations to assist with the situation as it started to build,” he said.

Guidice said Chicago police officers did a good job of “winding that situation down,” even though it took six hours.

They ramped up “very quickly,” made certain the incident was “primarily contained on Belmont between Sheffield and Clark” and allowed revelers to party themselves out without provoking them, he said.

“You have a large group of kids. You have to handle crowds in a certain way. You don’t want to entice the crowd to do anything more than what they’re already doing,” Guidice said.

Two people were taken into custody as officers dispersed the crowd, according to police spokesperson Kellie Bartoli.

A 15-year-old girl was charged with a felony count of aggravated assault of a peace officer and a misdemeanor count of resisting or obstructing a peace officer, Bartoli said.

Owen Thomas, 50, was also charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting or obstructing a peace officer, Bartoli said.

A day earlier, police made 25 arrests during the yearly bacchanal that follows the Pride Parade in Lake View, Bartoli said. Charges included illegal gun possession, aggravated battery to a peace officer, battery, reckless conduct, criminal damage to property and resisting arrest. One person was also arrested on a warrant.

After the April 15 downtown rampage by a mob of young people, Johnson was criticized for condemning the behavior but saying that it was “not constructive to demonize youth who otherwise have been starved of opportunities in their communities.”

On Tuesday, Lawson was asked how to prevent a repeat of Monday night.

“I am not of their generation, so it’s a little harder for me to speculate. … I’m not quite sure of the attraction,” the alderperson said.

“I would wish that they had better outlets. Places to enjoy themselves. Places to work, go to school. … I want to work with my colleagues and city departments to find some options that maybe we don’t have right now,” he said.

Guidice called teen takeovers a social-media phenomenon that “unfortunately has gained traction over the years.”

“There’s a lot of these kids that just go along for the ride, so to speak,” Guidice said. “You can turn a relatively innocent situation into something more difficult than that in a short period of time if you don’t have enough resources to get to it quick enough.”

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