‘You are risking first responders’ lives’: Police shut down parties amid coronavirus pandemic

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CHICAGO — Even after Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave stern warnings about the consequences of violating social distancing guidelines, groups around Chicago defied the governor’s “stay-at-home” order with late-night celebrations over the weekend.

“Going to a party now during this pandemic while Chicagoans are still dying every day is the height of foolishness,” Lightfoot said Saturday. “And this is how it’s going to be, we will shut you down, we will cite you, and if we need to, we will arrest you and we will take you to jail.”

Still, after holding a press conference Saturday on the West Side to address rumors of at least six planned parties, Chicago police say they broke up at least two large gatherings overnight and into Sunday morning, including one where 150 people were dancing in the street near Lexington and Albany.

“We lost officers to the COVID-19. For a silly party, you are risking first responders’ lives,” CPD Supt. David Brown said. “Think about that.”

Elsewhere on the West Side, empty cups littered the street following parties in which people were spotted dancing and hugging without masks. Tow trucks waited to haul away cars as groups wandered through the neighborhood. Downtown, groups gathered to watch a drag race on Wacker Drive before police broke it up.

The most serious incident happened in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood.

Chicago police say five teenagers were injured during a drive-by shooting at what authorities described as a “large gathering” in the street near the intersection of 13th Street and South Lawndale. 

All of the victims are said to be in fair condition, and detectives are still looking for the shooter.

Police said they also shut down multiple parties Friday night. Lightfoot said property owners can be fined $5,000 by the city if they’re caught hosting a party while the stay-at-home order is in effect.

This all comes after a week in which there was open defiance of the social distancing guidelines intended stop the spread of the novel coronavirusLast weekend, a party took place at the home of a CFD commander and a wedding spilled out into the streets in West Ridge. Protests in Springfield and at the Thompson Center brought hundreds into close proximity.

Governor JB Pritzker said Sunday the intent of his stay-at-home order is not to have police patrolling the neighborhoods to break up gatherings, but rather such parties are dangerous and police should shut them down. 

Police said they will not hesitate to make arrests as the stay-at-home order continues.


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