Ohio Street underpass to be locked nightly after fatal shooting

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The underpass that connects Ohio Street to the lakefront will be locked down each night to cut down on crime. (WLS)

The underpass that connects Ohio Street to the lakefront will be locked down each night starting Wednesday night following the fatal shooting of a woman near the Ohio Street Beach earlier this month.

Residents have called for the gates to be locked at night to cut down on crime.

"They're pretty scary, if you look at them. They are pretty much dead ends and I'm concerned about the crime that has increased in the area," said Mark Rich, a Streeterville resident.

Streeterville neighbors say this is the first step to making this area more safe and cut down on crime.

"It just didn't use to happen here so let's take this step and see what it does," Rich said.

The Ohio Street pedestrian underpass has been the center of debate over city violence and accessibility.

"This has been a place where gang affiliated folks hang out. There's a lot of open air drinking, drug use, prostitution acts in this tunnel," said Ald. Brendan Reilly.

Alderman Reilly called for the underpass to be closed between midnight and 5 a.m. over the summer after 25-year-old Raven Lemons was shot and killed near the area on June 18.

"Normally this would go through the committee on transportation that's were infrastructure issues are routed to but that committee wasn't going to meet until next month," Reilly said.

Alderman Reilly said he and his constituents couldn't afford to wait that long.
Thankfully for him, the mayor agreed.

But Alderman Anthony Beale is questioning city leaders' move to jump to Streeterville's defense compared to other areas of Chicago.

"I think that this was a knee-jerk reaction and if we start reacting to situations this across the city then you will have every street in the city of Chicago closed down," Beale said.

Alderman Beale said Reilly's order was a "grandstand" move and an attempt to keep certain people out of the downtown area.

"We want to make sure this city is available to everyone and not just close things down when people from other communities happen to come through downtown. That is what downtown is all about," Beale said.

Alderman Reilly responded to Beale's accusations: "It was no slight intended towards my colleague, I just had to get this done as quickly as possible to keep my constituents safe."

In addition to closing the underpass nightly, Reilly said additional lights and security cameras will be added in the area.

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