Lightfoot defends Millennium Park curfew for minors after deadly 'Bean' shooting

Some say downtown violence solutions should include community, not just police

Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Lightfoot defends Millennium Park youth curfew after 'Bean' shooting
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is defending her Millennium Park curfew after a deadly shooting at the "Bean" killed Seandell Holliday, 16, over the weekend.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot defended her plan Tuesday to strategically restrict access to Millennium Park for young people.

It comes as police are rethinking their strategy for dealing with large crowds of minors after the deadly shooting at the "Bean" this weekend.

The chaos at the Bean Saturday night had police outmanned and scrambling, with police brass ordering officers to begin rounding people up.

SEE MORE: Mom of teen fatally shot at 'Bean' says he worried about living past 21

Seandell Holliday, the 16-year-old shot and killed at "the Bean" in Millennium Park, worried about living past his 21st birthday, his mother said.

"It's a mass arrest situation, if they're breaking the law make the arrests," a command-level officer could be heard ordering over the scanner.

That did not happen due to a lack of police manpower. But in response to an altercation that led to the shooting death of 16-year-old Seandell Holliday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has ordered that minors without an adult will not be allowed in Millennium Park after 6 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday.

"Millennium Park has become a gathering place, but also a flashpoint," Lightfoot said. "We can't allow any public space to be turned into a place of chaos and violence."

Lightfoot signed the executive order on the new curfew Tuesday.

During a groundbreaking for a new athletic field at Farragut Career Academy Tuesday morning, Lightfoot stressed that simply arresting young people during large gatherings doesn't work.

SEE MORE: Teen charged after boy killed near Millennium Park 'Bean;' Mayor Lightfoot enacts weekend curfew

"That's not our goal," Lightfoot said. "Our goal is to make sure that we create public spaces like this one, where children and families can enjoy themselves in safety and peace."

The American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday night the plan could do more harm than good.

"It's easy and it seems like a cheap fix. We think this is just wrong on every count that it can be," said Ed Yohnka, director of communications and policy for ACLU Illinois.

"This is targeted at the very people who don't have places to go in their own community," Yohnka added. "This will be applied to the people you know to people who have always been the subject of police targeting. And that's just the wrong way to go about this."

2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins said he is concerned about the strain mass gatherings put on police, delaying 911 responses in neighborhoods.

"There were up to three hours of a backlog on Saturday night and some of these calls were serious calls, batteries and fights in progress, burglar alarms going off," Hopkins said.

Police are rethinking strategies to hopefully deter violence that mass gatherings might spark.

"We have learned lessons, we do after-actions after each one of these and we'll continue to improve as the summer goes on and eventually we'll get this right," Chicago police Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott said.

Lightfoot once again stressed that young people are welcome in any public space, but she vowed that those who break the law will face consequences. Starting Thursday, her new order for Millennium Park order will be put to the test.

Community should be part of downtown violence solutions, dads say

Two Black fathers who lead organizations helping you in Chicago said they're not only trying to keep their kids stay safe, but they're also trying protect young people in their com

Two Black fathers who lead organizations helping you in Chicago said they're not only trying to keep their kids stay safe, but they're also trying protect young people in their community.

Lavonte Stewart Sr. and Joseph Williams are both fathers to their own children and father-figures for those who need one. They believe the city should rely more on people like them to tackle the issue of young people coming downtown and causing trouble.

"Instead of trying to police our way out of this, let's involve the community and organizations," Stewart said.

"You got to have folks at the table who are working with these children every single day," Williams said.

Williams heads Mr. Dad's Father's Club and Stewart leads Lost Boyz Inc. Both of their groups focus on helping kids stay active and on the right path.

"A lot of those youth that we see downtown, we might have a few that may be agitators and there may be those who are looking to start some trouble," Williams said.

Williams said some of the teens are trying to escape the dangers in their own neighborhoods.

"Two years ago, when children first started to go downtown, I heard a lot of them say, 'We are coming downtown but we can't go in our communities and safely be able to play and enjoy ourselves,'" Williams said.

Stewart said some parents are struggling to keep track of their kids because they have a lot on their plate.

"They are trying to work two jobs, be the breadwinner, take care of home," Stewart said. "It cuts in the time you are able to spend with your child."

That's why they believe it's going to take a village to make sure what happened last weekend downtown doesn't happen again.

"We have to start offering programs where our children can have an outlet," Willaims said. "They can talk about their feelings. They can get that social emotional piece that they need."

Which they say will lead to young people making better choices.

Full Statement from ACLU on Lightfoot's curfew

We are disappointed that the City responded to our request earlier today for more information by issuing an executive order lacking in so many ways. To begin, the Mayor calls it an emergency that young people are gathering in Millennium Park - while crowds have gathered in many other parts of the City for years with no such designation. She suggests that a curfew will reduce crime, despite ample evidence (clearly articulated in this morning's Chicago Sun Times) that curfews do not reduce crime. Her fiat further changes the age of those subject to the City's curfew ordinance (from 16 to 18) and would permit the indefinite detention of those caught in violation of her order until an eligible adult arrives. Finally, the order singles out as an exception ticketed events, suggesting that the curfew will target disadvantaged youth in our City who are unable to purchase a ticket to a costly event. Given the disproportionate application of the curfew restrictions after George Floyd's murder, this is a real concern.

We asked the Mayor and City to explain how this ordinance would be implemented. This approach doesn't solve a problem - it further damages relations between young people and the community. The Mayor is headed in the wrong direction and must abandon this path as soon as possible."