Chicago’s top cop promised a beefed-up police presence downtown after a chaotic weekend when two children were shot as hundreds of youths roamed in and near Millennium Park.
“There will be more of everything,” Chicago Police Supt. David Brown told reporters at police headquarters Friday.
Without going into specifics, police said there would be additional resources in and around Millennium Park this weekend. There is also a plan to evacuate the park in an emergency.
Brown said his officers would likely be “more aggressive” in making arrests the moment they witness criminal behavior.
“But that is not the role of policing — to babysit people’s kids,” he said. “Parents should not be driving their kids from all parts of Chicagoland and dropping them off downtown. It’s just irresponsible as a parent, particularly the younger kids we saw downtown: the 12-year-olds, the 14-year-olds with no adult supervision.”
Brown said the crowd swelled to about 500 youths downtown over last weekend, many of whom were not breaking the law, he said.
“We can’t take action until people violate the law. Just coming downtown and being downtown is not a violation of the law,” Brown said.
A 12-year-old girl was shot over the weekend in the first block of North Michigan Avenue three hours before a 15-year-old boy was shot in the arm not far way in the 200 block of North Wabash Avenue.
The girl was with a group of people when someone fired in their direction about 8:40 p.m. Saturday, police said. She suffered a gunshot wound to the back and was taken in serious condition to Comer Children’s Hospital, police said.
About three hours later, the 15-year-old boy bumped into someone on the street and they began arguing, police said. The other person pulled a gun and shot the boy in the arm. He was taken in good condition to Lurie Children’s Hospital.
Police said they dispatched extra patrols to control crowds. In addition to the two shootings, a CTA bus driver was beaten downtown, and two cops were injured. At least 22 juveniles were arrested, and two “replica firearms” were seized.
“Chicago belongs to all of us, but if you come downtown or anywhere else to engage in disorderly conduct or other crimes, you will be arrested.” Brown said.
Brown bristled at the suggestion that the department didn’t have a proper plan in place to deal with the crowds.
“We had leadership on the ground. We had clear direction on the ground,” he said.