CHICAGO — Mexican Independence Day celebrations and the city’s response to them created traffic chaos in and around downtown during the weekend. Chicago Police Supt. David Brown gave a safety briefing Monday morning.
The superintendent received a number of questions about his department’s handling of the Independence Day celebrations downtown. The police department at one point in the middle of the weekend had to step up their efforts to try to manage the crowds who took over downtown streets.
Watch Brown’s full press conference in the video below.
Thousands of people traveling in caravans flooded the Loop, the Magnificent Mile and DuSable Lake Shore Drive for three straight nights to celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain.
The crowds caused major traffic jams, shut down intersections for dance parties and set off fireworks for several hours.
Two men were shot in the Loop during the chaos around 1 a.m. Saturday on East Wacker Drive. Also, five people were robbed and carjacked in the 1400 block of South DuSable Lake Shore Drive while participating in the celebrations. An officer was hit with a frozen water bottle and had to go to the hospital.
To limit cars from entering downtown Chicago, state police blocked exits off I-90, I-94 and the Ike.
On Saturday night, police announced it would use tire deflation devices if needed.
Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd Ward) who was out surveying the damage, said that police were simply overwhelmed and that there were not enough officers.
“There could have easily been hundreds more if police were able affect those arrests in a safe manor, when they go to make an arrest and they’re pelted with rocks, bottles and bricks, when they have vehicles driving at them, threatening to run them over, they have to do the safe thing and retreat,” he said.
“Everybody gets to celebrate,” a neighborhood resident said. “But you’ve got to really take care of your community. The garbage that is up and down Michigan Avenue and just throughout the neighborhood is ridiculous.”
In the last report received from CPD in terms of numbers side, the department announced they arrested seven people, recovered four guns and impounded 16 cars. Police say that those were directly related to the Independence Day celebrations.
Police say they also plan to use surveillance videos to identify cars involved with reckless driving and drifting, and then they could go impound those vehicles at a later date.