Lakeview alderman is ‘deeply concerned’ about Chicago police plan for upcoming Pride Parade

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and spectators at the 2019 Chicago Pride Parade. | Twitter; File

Lakeview Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) believes Chicago police are not committing adequate resources to the upcoming weekend’s Chicago Pride Parade and he’s asking CPD brass to assemble a more robust plan.

The revelation comes in a letter the veteran alderman sent to CPD Supt. David Brown on Tuesday evening.

Tunney said he was “very troubled” by the lack of resources that caused Town Hall (19th) District officers to be overwhelmed by a large fight along the Boystown bar strip early Monday. The flare up, in which two officers were injured and a man was charged with felony battery of a peace officer, followed the neighborhood’s annual Pride Fest street festival.

“[I] do not want to see it repeated,” Tunney told Brown.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s parade, which draws crowds many times larger than Pride Fest, Tunney said he is “deeply concerned that the current staffing plans for the Pride Parade as outlined to me are insufficient for the size of the crowds the City realistically should be anticipating.”

“I strongly believe that after a two-year hiatus, this Pride Parade will be the largest in Chicago history,” Tunney advised Brown.

Tunney said he is “concerned that the ongoing issues with understaffing will make the Pride Parade unsafe for participants, spectators and, importantly, our police officers, many of whom I understand will have been working more than a week without a day off to rest up and recharge.”

Historically, Chicago’s Pride Parades have resulted in relatively few arrests during the actual march. However, crowds that linger in the neighborhood hours after the parade have often turned violent and disruptive.

Police arrested 23 people during and after the most recent Pride Parade in 2019, which was cut short when a major thunderstorm rolled through the area. The 2020 and 2021 parades were cancelled due to COVID.

Here is the full text of Tunney’s letter:

Dear Superintendent Brown:

Following up on our recent conversation, I am writing to you today to request additional police resources for the upcoming Pride Parade weekend beginning the evening of Friday, June 24 to the morning of Monday, June 27.

I am making this request on behalf of my constitutents in the 44th Ward, Pride Parade participants and spectators, and our dedicated 019th District officers because I strongly believe that after a two-year hiatus, this Pride Parade will be the largest in Chicago history.

In a normal year, the Pride Parade consists of hudreds of floats, thousands of marchers and approximately one million spectators. I am deeply concerned that the current staffing plans for the Pride Parade as outlined to me are insufficient for the size of the crowds the City realistically should be anticipating.

As noted above, Lakeview needs increased staffing during the entire Pride Parade weekend and into Monday morning. Northalsted, the LGTBQ nightlife corridor in my ward, already has seen large, sometimes rowdy, crowds this year. I have repeatedly and publicly stated in the past, the 019th Police District needs more officers under normal circumstances.

I am very troubled by the situation that occurred Monday at 3am on Halsted and do not want to see it repeated. I listened to the numerous radio calls from the 019th District officers asking for assistance from officers from other districts to control unruly groups of individuals following the Pride Fest and, based on that situation, am concerned that the ongoing issues with understaffing will make the Pride Parade unsafe for participants, spectators, and, importantly, our police officers, many of whom I understand will have been working more than a week without a day off to rest up and recharge.

As a member of the Committee on Public Safety, I understand that the retention and hiring of officers is a challenging problem that your office is working to address. I look forward to working with you, other members of the Committee on Public Safety and the City Council as a whole on finding innovative ways to both retain and hire more officers.

In the short term, however, I am requesting that you ensure the 019th Police District is properly staffed this weekend so that everyone can celebrate a safe and happy Pride.

Sincerely,

Thomas M. Tunney
Alderman, 44th Ward

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