Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday expressed “outrage” that graffiti taggers had plastered the words “35th Street Crew” on “The Bean” in Millennium Park and spray-painted walls inside the Cancer Survivors Garden at Maggie Daley Park.
The mayor said she won’t tolerate it — not because it’s downtown, but because “there have to be limits.”
The mayor credited employees of MB Real Estate Services, the private management company charged with maintaining and securing Millennium Park, for following the offenders and alerting Chicago police, paving the way for seven arrests.
“Clearly, they chose this area to make a big statement,” the mayor said, acknowledging she was “pretty pissed off” when the alert from the Chicago Police Department came across her cell phone.
“There are some things that should be sacred. Millennium Park and ‘The Bean’ have been an important, iconic heart of who we are as Chicago from the time that park opened. . . . It is unbelievably unacceptable for somebody to be defacing something like that.”
The white spray-painted words “35th Street Crew” marked a brazen display of vandalism at a reflective sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor, formally known as “Cloud Gate,” that has become a beloved meeting place and favorite photo op for Chicagoans and visitors alike.
Lightfoot said she planned to talk to the Chicago Park District and the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events about the possibility of stepping up security at Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park.
But she pretty much exonerated the “MB team” who, she said, “saw this graffiti happening, followed the offenders and alerted police,” leading to the quick arrests.
”It’s just in that moment that these people were gathered there and something happened,” she said.
MB is operating under a five-year, $49.9 million contract due to expire on Aug. 1, 2021.
Lightfoot stressed that the vandalism was no more “unacceptable” in the downtown area than it is in Chicago neighborhoods.
“We are not going to tolerate this in our city. All over our city there’s graffiti, gang markings. It spreads fear in the hearts of people in neighborhoods, and its unacceptable, and we’re not going to tolerate it,” the mayor said.
”In my neighborhood of Logan Square, we have gang graffiti. I’ve had my garage tagged. . . . People should have a decent quality of life all over this city. And it’s not acceptable for other people to try to appropriate our property and tag it with gang signs. We’re not gonna tolerate that.”
The mayor noted that a lot of the graffiti has already been cleaned up and that cleanup work was being done Tuesday morning on “The Bean.”
“And I’m gonna follow what happens with the prosecution of these individuals very closely. We have to send a clear message. Enough is enough,” she said.
“It’s not just because of downtown. It’s not acceptable anywhere. Whether it’s your garage, whether it’s your house, whether it’s a wall — people should have a good quality of life and not have it destroyed by gang markings.”
Charges are pending against the seven people arrested in connection with the vandalism, police said.
Contributing: Sun-Times Wire