Lightfoot vows tougher security at next year’s Lollapalooza music festival
After several thwarted attempts at gate-crashing, Lightfoot wants to tighten up “vulnerable spots” and have security in place “outside of the fences — not just on the inside.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she wants even tougher security measures in place for next year’s Lollapalooza music festival after several thwarted attempts at gate-crashing during the four-day extravaganza in Grant Park.
“I have a friend who has a 15-year-old. Apparently, there were a bunch of Snapchat conversations among teenagers about where they believe there were vulnerable spots. I think we can do a different and better job there. We need people on the outside of the fences — not just on the inside,” the mayor said.
“There were several layers of fencing. So, what I’m told is that nobody actually broke through to get into Lolla because they were caught on the interior before they got to the next area of fencing. But I don’t want that to be a thing. Somebody could have easily hurt themselves. That’s not what we want.”
Lightfoot had promised a “robust” security plan after a random shooting at a California food festival killed three people, including a 6-year-old boy.
The mayor solidified those plans during a dinner meeting with the owners of C3 Presents on the eve of the musical festival.
As the formidable job of cleaning up Grant Park continued Monday, the mayor described Lollapalooza as a “great experience” for Chicago and a magnet for music aficionados from around the world.
This year’s version benefited greatly from the near-perfect summer weather. Not a drop of rain fell on a festival that, in the past, has been a mudfest and has even been evacuated during thunderstorms.
But Lightfoot said she plans to place a future emphasis on parental responsibility.
“We need to make sure that parents have a conversation with their young people before they come downtown. I heard stories of young people getting adults to rent Airbnb’s for them. I mean — that’s just silly. That’s gonna add to trauma,” she said.
“Luckily, we had a minimum of it. We were down in ambulance runs. We were down in incidents. But we always can learn from these experiences and do better. . . . We’ll be making some changes next year. They won’t necessarily be visible to the public. But I think there’s more that we can do to step up our efforts to make sure that people are safe.”
Last year, the Chicago Police Department beefed up security in the wake of the October 2017 mass shooting at a country concert in Las Vegas and after reports that the Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, may have eyed the Chicago festival as a potential target last summer.
At the time, the police widened their patrol perimeter around the music festival to include adjacent streets and high-rise buildings. The number of police, safety and security personnel both inside and outside the festival was increased substantially.
Patrons were subjected to “TSA-style security” that included magnetometer screening and a full-body pat-down. All bags were searched. Backpacks were banned. Only small purses and bags were allowed. Water bottles were emptied. They could be filled, only inside the festival after patrons cleared security.
This year, there were 300 security cameras and 900 private security guards in place to augment a force that included scores of Chicago police officers, both in uniform and undercover.
Lightfoot refused to pinpoint specific changes to next year’s plan.
She would only say that she had “learned a lot” from this year’s festival, adding, “C3 Partners were great to work with and I look forward to their coming back next year.”