Police ‘will not tolerate car caravans’ as revelers celebrate Mexican Independence Day this weekend, downtown alderman says

Video grabs show some scenes from the 2022 Mexican Independence Day celebration in the Loop. | Citizen App

CHICAGO — An alderman who represents much of downtown Chicago is advising his constituents to be prepared for possibly significant disruptions as revelers celebrate Mexican Independence Day this weekend.

Celebrants have flooded the Loop in recent years, driving in circles, waving flags, launching fireworks, burning out tires, dancing on buses, and blasting music well into the night. The streets have become completely gridlocked for hours, making it impossible for anyone who works, lives, or stays in the Loop to get in or out by car. The traffic jams have also hampered emergency services.

In 2020, a woman was critically injured when a driver slammed into a bus stop during the celebration. The driver, 32-year-old Allen Espino, was sentenced to six years in prison in February 2022.

By most accounts, last year’s mayhem was the worst yet. A man participating in a gathering in a South Loop parking lot was shot and killed. Martin Torres, a 30-year-old parolee, is charged with the crime. Another man was shot near the intersection of Wacker and Monroe in the Loop.

Police were so overwhelmed last year, that 911 calls for service stacked up for hours. They were eventually wiped away by a high-ranking CPD officer who “coded out” most calls, meaning they were marked “completed” even though police never responded.

But this year will be different, Ald, Brendan Reilly (42nd) told his constituents in an email on Thursday.

“CPD and the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) have been preparing for the upcoming Mexican Independence Day celebrations and will not tolerate car caravans that create a threat to public safety,” the alderman wrote. “CPD and OEMC will monitor events citywide throughout the weekend and have plans in place to manage traffic and public safety as needed.”

Chicago police are not planning to close any streets “unless caravans are headed to the Downtown neighborhoods,” Reilly continued. If the city does implement street closures, residents and people who work in the Loop will be able to access the area at ten locations:

  • North Halsted and West Division
  • North Halsted and West Chicago
  • North Halsted and West Washington
  • North Halsted and West Madison
  • South Halsted and South Jackson
  • West Roosevelt and South Union
  • 18th Street and South State
  • 18th Street and South Michigan
  • 18th Street and South Indiana
  • West Division and North LaSalle

Police will not require residents to show ID to pass through the checkpoints, Reilly said.

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