Memorial Day safety: Chicago beefs up security around city for holiday weekend

The city's 10 p.m. curfew for those under 18 will be in effect this weekend
CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's the holiday weekend, and while some may be excited, others are going into this weekend cautiously.

Memorial Day weekend is typically a violent one in Chicago.

Last year, 32 people were shot over the weekend, 3 of them fatally.

However, this year, all officers' days off are being canceled and the city's amended curfew is in effect for unaccompanied minors.

The city is also prepared for large crowds of young people potentially spilling over into Grant Park which will host a major music festival this weekend.

Before the weekend even started, there was an alarming sight for people living in the Near North neighborhood as gunmen brazenly opened fire Thursday night. More than three dozen shots were fired, with bullets hitting cars and apartments. Fortunately, no one was injured.

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Video shows at least three gunmen firing off dozens of shots near Cabrini Green on Chicago's Near North Side in broad daylight.



But for residents, visitors and city leaders, it's another disconcerting moment as people get ready to kick off Memorial Day weekend.

"This is surely a moment where we need to come together as a city government, as elected officials, but as residents," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

"It's a great opportunity for us to collectively work together to be a blessing to our community," added Richard Martinez, with the 4th District Faith Based Clergy Committee.

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A Humboldt Park event was just one of dozens events across the city, as neighbors united to walk in peace.

"It takes all of us, all of us to do what is necessary to make every single community safe," Lightfoot said.

With several large-scale events this weekend, including the Sueños Music Festival in Grant Park, a Soldier Field concert by the band Coldplay and the Crosstown Classic at Guaranteed Rate Field, the police presence is out in full force.

Heading into summer, CPD said shootings are down 16% from last year, but recent violence has many questioning the city's readiness.

Police are beefing up their presence in parks and at the beaches, which they know will attract large numbers of people.

There will also be increased police presence on the CTA. A permanent police post will also be at State and Chicago after the mass shooting there.

"In those areas, we'll have more bike patrols [and] more foot patrols to add safety and security 24/7 at all these major events," Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said.

"We have a very good plan in place to help our residents and our visitors enjoy the greatness that the city has to offer," Lightfoot added.

City leaders also reiterated that young people are welcome downtown while reminding them, and parents, of the new 10 p.m. weekend curfew for those under 18.

"I urge our students to spend time with small groups of friends and avoid large gatherings which can get out of hand," said Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez.

After a fatal shooting near the "Bean," evening security checkpoints for unaccompanied minors will remain in effect. Police are also preparing for crowds to go elsewhere.

"[We] have to make sure we're still being accountable for our children, that we're at least giving them a simple text or call to know where you are, to make sure our children are safe," said Joseph Williams, founder of Mr. Dad's Father's Club.

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"So, I feel confident in our plan that we have for this weekend and really for this summer. But literally, we're got to be nimble and flexible because circumstances and functions have to be changed," Lightfoot said.

The cooler temperatures Friday night may help keep crowds down for the kickoff to the holiday weekend, but warmer temperatures the next few days could mean for a busy weekend for police here and elsewhere.
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