Police detained dozens of people, mostly juveniles, during a “large group” incident in the Loop on Fourth of July evening, according to police and sources. Most of the juveniles were taken in for curfew violations, but other arrestees are expected to face charges such as battery, reckless conduct, and battery of police.
At least two police officers were injured during the hours-long disturbance, according to a police statement. A source told CWBChicago that one officer had lost his hearing after a large firework exploded near his head.
“The Chicago Police Department had sufficient resources deployed to manage the crowds and ensure public safety,” the agency said in a brief media statement overnight.
Things started to go sideways shortly after 6:30 p.m. when someone detonated a large firework near Millennium Park. It would be the first of many similar incidents that were reported throughout the downtown area Sunday night.
Police began pushing everyone out of the park a few minutes later, which served only to relocate the large groups into downtown streets. Videos circulated widely online of people dancing on police cars and running through the streets as police moved in.
CPD’s downtown radio frequency was a near-constant stream of calls as officers reported people using fireworks as weapons and physically assaulting officers, the public, and other members of the groups. At least one person was arrested for illegal gun possession in the Loop.
Other than the injured police officers, CPD did not release any information about how many people were injured during the incident or how many police vehicles were damaged by the groups.
By 8:30 p.m., a police supervisor said 18 arrests had been made. Overnight, CPD Supt. David Brown said the number of arrests had ballooned to more than 60.
Police used loudspeakers to announce a 10 p.m. curfew and arrested a significant number of juveniles who failed to leave the area on time. In fact, the 1st District police station had so many juveniles in custody, supervisors ordered cops to start taking detainees to another district because they ran out of room.
Chicago police have tried to manage so-called “large group” situations in the same area several times this year, with significant incidents reported on April 27, May 1, May 2, May 8, and May 22. But the phenomenon is not new. CWBChicago has tracked 17 group incidents in the city since January 2018. Prior to Sunday, and excluding civil uprisings, the most arrests reported in a single incident was 38 on May 17, 2019.