Chicago police will enforce Millennium Park teen curfew after youth gatherings turned violent

Security guards patrol Chicago’s Millennium Park at the Cloud Gate during the first night of its new unaccompanied minors restriction hours on May 19, 2022.
Security guards patrol Chicago’s Millennium Park at the Cloud Gate during the first night of its new unaccompanied minors restriction hours on May 19, 2022. Police say they will enforce the policy after gatherings last weekend turned violent. (Colin Boyle / Block Club Chicago)

A curfew for minors at Millennium Park is back, and bag checks at beaches will be enforced after youth gatherings this weekend downtown turned violent, police said Monday night.

The announcement comes after two teens were wounded in shootings downtown and a third on the Near South Side as large groups gathered.

The meetups came as Chicago saw 70- and 80-degree temperatures and many people gathered outside to enjoy the weather. Videos on social media showed hundreds of young people gathered Friday night near 31st Street Beach, and other videos showed more large groups of people Saturday night downtown.

The videos showed people fighting, jumping on cars, and running in and out of the street.

Nine adults and six juveniles were arrested at the gathering Saturday, officials said. Most of the people arrested faced a reckless conduct charge, but two people were charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, police said.

A 16-year-old was also charged with unlawful of a weapon, police said.

“We encourage our young people to be safe and responsible as they enjoy their weekends, but anyone engaged in criminal activity will be arrested and held accountable,” police department officials said in a statement.

As a result of the incidents, police said they will implement additional security measures downtown, including bag checks, enforcing a controversial Millennium Park curfew, and “working closely with youth and outreach workers for when these gatherings occur.”

“Resources include an increased police and command staff presence at these gatherings citywide. Our Strategic Decision Support Centers (SDSCs) will also be monitoring all activity and police cameras to assist in the proactive reallocation of resources when necessary,” police officials said.

A Mayor’s Office spokesperson confirmed Monday the curfew at Millennium Park is being enforced.

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That park’s curfew, rolled out last summer after a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed at The Bean, bans people younger than 18 from being in the park without an adult after 6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.

Those younger than 18 trying to enter the park after 6 p.m. must be accompanied by someone 21 or older. Each adult can accompany no more than four minors at a time, according to the park’s rules.

Those entering the park will also be subjected to bag checks by park security, who regularly check IDs.

Separately, a 10 p.m. citywide curfew is in effect daily for people 17 and younger. The citywide curfew was moved up last year as the city struggled with shootings.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and City Council faced heavy criticism for the changes — and data shows the curfew had little effect on crime — but officials argued the changes were necessary.

“We strongly encourage parents to accompany their teens or have them remain under the supervision of a responsible adult,” police said.

This story was originally published by Block Club Chicago.

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