Police: Hundreds of teens flood downtown Chicago; 31 charged in disturbances

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of teens turned downtown Chicago into their Spring Break playground Wednesday night, flooding into Millennium Park, the Mag Mile and surrounding areas.

Thirty-one people were arrested and are facing charges that include disorderly mob action, resisting arrest and battery.

"People were fighting," said Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Fred Waller. "We had numerous fights down here and that's what that crowd was running from, from a fight."

No one was seriously injured in the disturbance, but the Chicago Police Department issued a warning ahead of summer that this behavior won't be tolerated.

"As we know, most of these kids who come down here, Chicago is a beautiful city - so that's what they come down, to enjoy the city. We do have an element that starts a lot of lawlessness, running around, doing things they shouldn't, snatching phones and those types of things," Chief Waller said.

The Magnificent Mile Association released a statement saying, in part: "It is unfortunate for any individual or group to create such disruption in any neighborhood in our city. The Magnificent Mile is an economic engine for Chicago; and vitally important to thousands of its constituents that our member businesses employ from all city wards and greater Chicagoland."

Kevin Cherep with Chicago Youth Centers and Jill Bradley with Build Chicago head youth-focused non-profit organizations.

"I don't necessarily immediately blame the kids. I think that is the easy thing to do is to make it seem like all these young people are rebellious and disrespectful," Cherep said.

"Parents are not the enemy. Believe me, they want what is best for their children," Bradley said.

Cherep and Bradley say they work hard to provide young people with more productive ways to spend their time, but it's not enough.

"It is not just about providing a safe place for these kids to be so they are not on the streets, it's about an investment in the future workforce," Cherep said.
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