Police step up security for Bud Billiken parade

August 8, 2008 2:36:33 PM PDT
Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis outlined his department's plan to keep spectators safe during the 79th Annual Bud Billiken Back to School Parade.The parade, which is Chicago's largest, takes place Saturday on the city's South Side. About 1.2 million people are expected to attend.

Supt. Weis said he does not expect trouble, but in a city where violent crime is on the rise, the superintendent announced several security upgrades for the march down King Drive to Washington Park.

" Whenever you put over a million people into a relatively confined area, you have to be prepared for those situations. And that's what law enforcement is all about," said Jody Weis, Chicago Police Superintendent.

"We don't expect anything. This is family friendly event. And I'm looking forward to having people come down King Drive," said Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd Ward

Weis and his commanders were criticized after a shooting downtown as a crowd dispersed following the July 3rd fireworks. Therefore, the same command staff is paying extra attention to the parade's plan, which includes metal barricades along much of the parade route, no vehicles in Washington Park and no musical acts.

"It's the parade's effort to support a controlled environment," said Col. Eugene Scott, Parade Organizer.

Despite the long tradition, Superintendent Weis said this year his officers will ticket anyone selling barbecue or any item outside the designated area for licensed vendors inside the park.

"All licensed and legal vendors will be inside the park. We're not going to have any illegal vendors or unauthorized vendors along the street," said Weis.

Licensed vendor Ousmane Gueye called it an over-reaction. He won't be able to claim his usual spot on 55th Street this Saturday.

"If you aren't going to be here, it's going to be very hard. You won't find enough space for all of us," said Ousmane, Gueye, African Arts vendor.

Senator Barack Obama was named an honorary grand marshal at the Bud Billiken Parade, but he will not be participating. That's one security concern Chicago police do not have to worry about.

On Friday, police clarified that picnickers will be allowed to barbecue along King Drive.


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