Chicagosphere

« Following Up on Chicago's Independence Eve Four Reasons Why Bloggers on Twitter »

Is Chicago Covering Up Independence Eve Gang Shooting?

user-pic
Mike Doyle

Since 2005 scribe of the local blog, Chicago Carless. I invite you to visit.

fireworksbeforedark(Photo: Chicago's Independence Eve fireworks, now with extra daylight?)

[UPDATE 7/7/09: See the July 7th continuation of this story: Following Up on Chicago's Independence Eve Violence]

Welcome to viewers referred from Gapers Block, Windy Citizen, Chicago Carless, the Beachwood Reporter, Chicagoist, Huffington Post Chicago, Second City Cop, the WBEZ Chicago Public Radio blog, and Topix.net.

For the second time in two years, Chicago's Independence Eve fireworks started early. Last year's reason? Gang violence, including four shootings--one fatal--after the display, that marred the evening and marked a controversial start for then-new Chicago police superintendent Jody Weis. This year, Chicago police brass reported gang activity yet again, in and adjacent to the Taste of Chicago grounds both before and after the show. Trouble is, the blogosphere is reporting a lot more violence--including potentially another shooting--than can be found in the city's official version of events.

When Twitter friends @jasmined, @jefframone, @nitekong and I sat down on the grass at the north end of Monroe Harbor at 8:50 p.m. on Friday evening, we expected a 45-minute wait until the originally planned 9:30 p.m. start time for Chicago's annual Independence Eve fireworks display. We--and very audibly, the dozens of people sitting around us--were happy but confused when the show began barely five minutes later, and a full half-hour earlier than scheduled.

Aware of the problems from 2008, I spent the rest of the evening and the next day searching for any news reports of violence during this year's fireworks display. As of this writing, neither the Chicago Tribune nor the Sun-Times, both of which spoke directly to city officials, offers any reason for the early start of the 2009 show. The Sun-Times went so far as to call this year's festivities "peaceful"--even while reporting on the arrest of a gang member attempting to carry a loaded shotgun into the Taste of Chicago.

To its credit, the Tribune went farther, reporting on that incident and several more, including pre-fireworks arrests in the area of Buckingham Fountain after--in the words of a Chicago police spokesperson--"some sort of disturbance," and a 30-person gang melee at Michigan and Congress after the show.

That doesn't sound like a peaceful evening to me.

According to the editors and commenters of the independent Chicago Police Department watchdog blog, Second City Cop, the official version of events given to the news media by city officials is far from the full story. Besides questioning the early fireworks start, their Independence Eve roundup, complied and augmented by anonymous Chicago police officers and insiders, lists numerous fights (like this video), arrests, gang marches, and shots fired.

(The blog also noted the early start of the July 4th Navy Pier display, which I witnessed personally, as well.)

So whom to believe? To compare the stories, I jotted down a thumbnail list of each version of events--the official, and the insider. Here's what I found:

Events Reported to News Media by City Officials

--One gun-related arrest in afternoon (gang member with shotgun in bag.)
--Arrests for unspecified reasons at Buckingham Fountain at 8:30 p.m.
--No mention of early fireworks start.
--One major fight at 9:45 p.m. (30-person gang melee at Michigan and Congress.)
--Various small, unspecified incidents.

Events Reported by Second City Cop Blog

--Gang members "take over" Buckingham Fountain area and by one account officers are told by police commanders ("Gold Stars") to "leave it alone, let them have it."
--911 dispatchers report two people shot at Buckingham Fountain.
--A potential effort (noted here and here) to silence radio reports of shots fired or gang fights.
--Gangster Disciples "50 deep" walking through Taste grounds and throwing gang signs.
--Latin Kings platooning along Roosevelt Road and heading towards Taste grounds.
--Multiple gang fight calls (10-1s.)
--"Numerous chases" and "multiple weapons recovered."
--Fireworks start at least half-an-hour early.
--At least ten significant gang fights along Michigan Avenue in addition to the large melee as crowds left the southern end of the Taste grounds.

Next, I checked in with my Twitter followers and performed several searches of Twitter's public timeline to look for tweets that might bear out the Second City Cop version of events. Here's a sampling of what I found:

"my first year at the taste of chicago fireworks and go figure a shooting occurs 10 ft away from me!" (@chibookgrl, 7:00 p.m. Jul 4th)
"@chicagocarless It was all over. Whole bunch of cops took of on quads north on LSD. A lot over by LaSalle St. Station too" (@mklingo 9:32 p.m. Jul 4th)
"@chicagocarless - definite gunfire - we were positioned on LSD, so of BF [Ed. note: Buckingham Fountain] - sitting next to 10 bike police" (@designslinger, 11:55 p.m. Jul 4th)
"@chicagocarless - just following first fireworks, the first gunshots, the bike police said aloud, 'That was a gunshot!'" (@designslinger 11:56 p.m. Jul 4th)

So what really happened on Independence Eve? If the official version of events is to be believed, we had a relatively peaceful celebration. If the blogosphere/twitterverse version of events is true, then city officials are not giving the media the full story.

Of course, if the alternate account of a violence-laden event is the correct one, that would complicate matters for Chicago police superintendent Jody Weis and Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, both of whom have a vested interest in not seeing the headlines of violence from the 2008 fireworks show repeat themselves.

I leave it to you decide the real version of Independence Eve events. Either way, it was obvious from being at the fireworks display and along the lakefront that Chicago's rank-and-file police officers were out in force and taking their jobs seriously. In my opinion--for this is a blog and not a news column--the fault, if any, doesn't lie with them.

If you witnessed violence during this year's Independence Eve fireworks show or have an opinion about what really happened the evening of July 3rd, please leave a comment.

###

Share this entry:
Bookmark and Share

Subscribe via RSS:
entriesfeedbutton.gif

Subscribe via Email:
emailfeedbutton.gif

Follow Mike Doyle on Twitter:
followtwitter.gif

Recommended

[?]

Recent Posts

Subscribe

Leave a comment

36 Comments

mmmcd76 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I know that, being a professional journalist, you want to make sure you have all the facts before perpetuating this rumor that the fireworks were shot off early to avoid gang issues...

As someone with intimate knowledge of the Taste of Chicago, let me assure you this was not the case. In fact, if you check all of the posted times that the Taste of Chicago Fireworks were scheduled to start, you will notice that this years Fireworks were ALWAYS scheduled to go off at 9:00pm, not 9:30pm as you reported.

Secondly, the Fireworks went off approximately 5 minutes early because the 85th Army band had concluded their set, and the radio and television partners were ready to go.

People got home a little earlier and got home safely. While there were some "dustups" inside the venue, which happens any time you get hundreds of thousands of people together in one place, the evening ended peacefully - and despite what you have "heard" - no shootings took place at the Taste of Chicago.

I'm sure - to be responsible about your reporting - you will do the appropriate research and, at the very least, clarify the scheduled starting time of the Fireworks. It's only fair.

Dane Tidwell said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I think the poster was referencing online information (http://gochicago.about.com/od/tasteofchicago/p/taste_chicago.htm) that stated the fireworks started at 9:30. Did they start at 9:30 last year? That could be where the discrepancy is.

k8iegirl said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I have to say that the situation is rather shady - in my eyes at any rate.

I went down at the behest of some friends to see the fireworks on the 3rd (I normally avoid the area during this time of year, but they promised me dinner at Edwardo's so I couldn't refuse). After leaving Edwardo's, we walked to the intersection of Dearborn and Congress and I said "hey, let's just turn right here and we can watch the fireworks by Buckingham" because obviously, I have a death wish of some sort, knowing about what had happened there last year. But there were police EVERYWHERE, so I was lulled into a false sense of security. Anyway, as we were walking, the fireworks started and my friends were making fun of me because I had ALSO said we had plenty of time to get a spot to view the show since the fireworks didn't start until around 9pm - 9:15pm. It was 8:45 when I had said that and the display started about five minutes later. We continued walking, and I noticed that a LOT of people were going in the opposite direction (we were walking east; they were speed walking or running west). I mean a LOT. There was one lady in particular who was pushing a baby carriage... she was running and kept looking behind her with this terrified look on her face. At the time I just thought these people didn't want to stick around for the fireworks. Well, we got to the park about half a block from the fountain and we were there not five minutes when one of those golf cart ambulances sped by with a girl on the back who looked like she was in serious pain but semi-conscious and another woman (who looked significantly older) crying hysterically next to her. Both the medic on the back of the cart and another uniformed person riding shotgun (who was turned around) were pressing down on the girl's stomach. I only caught this much because they slowed down as they were turning the corner right in front of us. This is the extent of what happened during the fireworks.

Afterwards we walked to the train and went to our respective lines. When I was on the train, a security guard was talking to one of the conductors next to me. The security guard asked a few of us waiting for our stop if we had seen the fireworks. We said yes, they were nice, etc. He mentioned that he'd been "doing this" for eight years and had yet to see the fireworks display downtown on the third and that he was surprised we stuck around to see the fireworks after the mini stampede. We were like, whaaa? He said that three people got shot at Buckingham Fountain and that a mini stampede took place due to the people trying to get away from the fountain after the shots were fired. He said that one person had been killed, but the other two were just injured as far as he knew, but they started the fireworks early so they could get people out of the city earlier. I went home and tried to find something about it online, but there wasn't anything. I wasn't surprised because it had just happened, but found it a tad odd when I tried finding something about it on Saturday and there was nothing to be found. I checked again today, but this was all I came across. So I thought I'd tell my story, because I was there and something definitely happened although you wouldn't know it for lack of any information whatsoever!!!

Attending the fireworks on Friday was not my proudest moment, because I didn't pay attention to the red flags on our short trip there. I'm just super thankful I wasn't around when whatever actually happened, happened. (*_*)


Craig Kanalley said:

user-pic

This is really fascinating. I would not at all be surprised, as I've said before, I'm near certain I heard multiple gunshots..and at least one at 8:30.. I was not far from Buckingham Fountain at the time.

Mike, what do you say? How do we get to the bottom of this?

dmatthew said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

mmmcd76 I can tell from your post who you really are. You should change up a few things. The mmmcd76 stands for Mike Masters My Clout is Daley. what the 76 is for I haven't figured it out yet(maybe your IQ). It's funny how I watched 3 different news programs on friday early and ALL 3 said that the fireworks would start at 9:30. So the city should have told the media too. But that was a lie that you told us that the 8:50 start time was planned. IWe all know why it started early was so that the trouble that was there wouldn't happen again.
Anyone that wants to know what really happened talk to a member of the CPD that was there and doesn't wear a white shirt. They will tell you just how bad it has gotten in the last few years with all the animals that come there just to look for or start trouble.

mmmcd76 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

DMatthew, just for clarification purposes, MMMCD76 is not Mike Masters...it is Megan McDonald, and I am the Executive Director of the Mayor's Office of Special Events. We are the office who produces the Taste of Chicago.

Despite the fact that I was personally standing on the Buckingham Fountain table from approximately 7:45pm until approximately 8:30pm the evening of July 3rd, and witnessed everything first hand (versus just repeating what people have read or heard) - I will not convince you of anything other than what you believe. So I'm not going to try.

What I will say is that it is true that the Fireworks have gone off at 9:30pm in the past, but this years scheduled time was ALWAYS 9:00pm. I will take responsibility if the notion is that we did not promote that enough, but it was posted on our website, and in every printed piece we had. It was also mentioned several times on the news, and I know this because it came straight from my mouth in several on air interviews that I did myself. But if people missed the message, then I apologize.

What I will not apologize for is the incredibly hard work of the Chicago Police Department on that evening. It is true there were things that happened inside the venue we would have liked to have avoided, but they worked incredibly hard in spite of them.

As I stated before, there was not a shooting at the Taste of Chicago, but there were clearly people there who were there for the wrong reasons and caused some trouble. We can't be responsible for every person that comes to the festival with bad intentions. But I can assure you we will do everything possible to avoid this in the future.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

Last things first. As far as "dustups", I don't agree with your use of euphemism. A 30-person gang riot is not a dustup. It's an incident of mass violence. So is a roving gang or gangs of thugs committing battery in a crowd of civilians. If nothing of the blogosphere version proves true, your word is still inadequate. Though I doubt how a person can mistake a shooting ten feet from them for something other than just that. I've already reached out to @chibookgrl for further details.

As far as the time, if it was really scheduled at 9 then the city did a very poor job of communicating that. All in my group and many not only in the crowd around us but also in the crowds that kept arriving at the lakefront before 9:30 as we were leaving were surprised--that means verbally upset for us to know about it--to learn the fireworks were not at 9:30.

It's unfortunate you've chosen to remain anonymous, that cuts down on your reliability as a source. I'd love to know who you work for. If it's the CPD, it's insulting to downplay violence committed against Chicagoans, and sets a dangerous precedent to consider a 30-person gang melee something that simply "happens" normally in a big crowd. If it's the mayor's office or a marketing firm connected with same, you should have done a better job communicating the time of the display.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

There is a lot of legacy information on still-live web pages that point to a time of 9:30 from previous years, including About, Time Out Chicago, and the city's own homepage (this from 2005). So there is definitely room for confusion. And it may have been that my group and others in the crowd saw legacy information or mistaken information on third-party websites that brought forward an erroneous 9:30 time. All I can say is the expectation was there, and it was real, for a 9:30 show.

Craig Kanalley said:

user-pic

Mike, great job on this post. I witnessed the Congress and Michigan melee and it was definitely a major problem that disrupted the peace as people were leaving the event.

Also, a lot of people remarked throughout the night that it was difficult to tell between illegal fireworks and gunshots. There were more than a few times when I was certain I had heard a gunshot, including during the Taste event around 8:30.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

Thanks, and thanks for backing me up on the shots fired, Craig.

MartinJon said:

user-pic

Of course there were shots fired - I was at a BBQ over the weekend and some hipster implant from Iowa, or someplace, said "If I were gonna shoot someone, today would be the day" now there are REAL people, that shoot people on a semi weekly basis here in Chicago, so who would be surprised that there are people being shot during the largest, loudest and most predictable fireworks display in the area. I would like to address why they might be being covered up. How many people would want to spend their money at a place they may potentially get shot? Some, for sure but most would take a pass and stay in the suburbs where they live. And the Mayor is trying to get the Olympics here, or have you forgotten. I say, cover it up, who the hell cares, you all came out okay and someone being shot 10 ft. from you, as scary as it is you still mention it with pride.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

You make a good point, MartinJon. That's what troubles me most. The idea that the city may be covering up the violence so I will feel better about going and spending my dollars at the Taste next year--even if it means me unwittingly putting myself in greater danger than I realize because my city's own mayor's office and police brass refuse to tell me.

That would mean (drumroll please)...that Chicago was putting my wallet ahead of my life and limb. And if that's true, that's unacceptable.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

k8iegirl, thanks for your comprehensive response. That sure sounds like a shooting to me. I heard about an hour ago that an acquaintance was at the fountain at the time of the disturbance and she said it looked like a gang of young girls was trying to push through the crowd. She didn't hear gunshots, but this is all getting curiouser and curiouser.

Craig, I think we stay on it. I am pushing the story towards major media, including at the Tribune and broadcast. It would help if you did some Twitter searches to see what you can come up with and do a follow-up post on Breaking Tweets. And I love how we are playing this out totally transparently in full public view.

Craig Kanalley said:

user-pic

Mike, I think we should stay on it too. I'll see if I can gather any more tweets or eyewitness accounts that give us a clearer picture. I have a few friends who saw the fireworks closer to Buckingham Fountain than I was and I'll see if they know anything too.

Bridget Puumala said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Hi Mike! I think you're referring to me here. We missed you yesterday. Anyhoo, I was there on the 3rd at Buckingham Fountain. Like you mentioned, there were a bunch of young girls pushing through the crowd near me, causing a disturbance. I can also corroborate the mini-stampede portion of the story. We were at the west end of the fountain. We were looking east, and at about the 1:00 position, we spotted people running counter clockwise around the fountain. I was able to watch them run until they got to the 9:00 position and then I could not see them moving any more. While this was happening, there was a police helicopter tightly circling the fountain at a lower-than-before altitude. I personally did not hear gun shots.

The police were there in large numbers and I saw them working together in large teams to take some people away. We saw HUNDREDS of police throughout the night, on bicycle and foot, mounted police and SWAT teams. I have to say that I was impressed with the overall presence they had. I agree with the previous post--the police were there and doing their job. The police are not the problem. Stupid mob mentality (or maybe just stupid people) is to blame. Lack of communication and information is the real issue here.

k8iegirl said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

An addendum: I am not one who believes everything I hear and/or read, nor do I EVER tout a fact-based stance on something until I have extensively researched the information on both sides of any given matter. I merely posted the aforementioned message regarding this past Friday night as my own accurate account of what my friends and I experienced. The security guard may have been exaggerating the situation that occurred, if there even was one. I will say though, for a fact, that I will not be attending the July 3rd fireworks display next year. Lol!

Craig Kanalley said:

user-pic

k8iegirl, I find it interesting that the first thing you did was check online to find more info about what you heard -- that's what I did too. Again I'm confident I heard at least one gunshot but all I could find on Twitter was people saying how confusing it is to tell a gunshot from an illegal firework.

So, at that point, I stuck with what I knew... and that was the Congress/Michigan melee, which I witnessed in person. I was actually still shaken up by that when I got back to my place, it was pretty wild.

Annette said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Thank you for this post. I heard a short blurb about this weekend's violence and deadly shootings on NPR this morning and was surprised that I hadn't heard anything about the incidents until then. Funny thing, now when I tried digging anything up about these events, all I came across was this post!

In response to the comment from "mmmcd76" regarding the scheduled time for the fireworks display, since when does the show start at 9pm? I remember last year heading out to see the show around 9 planning to get there with plenty of time before it's scheduled start time at 9:30, yet having to watch it from afar due to a surprising early start. Same thing this year. I'm with Mike on this one, the city sure did a very poor job of informing Chicagoans about the time change, considering ever since I can remember, the show's started at 9:30.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

k8iegirl, I agree. I put a retweet request out to my Twitter followers to see if anyone in my extended network has any further information about an injured young woman at Buckingham Fountain. Hopefully, we'll get to the bottom of this.

Perhaps with a FOIA request?

Anabel said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Confirming the Latin King "platooning":

I only made it to the corner of Michigan and Roosevelt on the Third, but I can confirm that in the 10 minutes I spent (around 8:45 -8:55) before hightailing it outta there, I personally saw about 10 different hispanic men being arrested and loaded into a paddy wagon at the BP at Wabash. I didn't notice anyone wearing gold, but I wasn't looking that closely.I had figured that there were just a lot more drunk people than usual getting put in the tank this year, though I did think it was strange that they were all young hispanic men. (And I really started to think it was strange when I read in the Trib the next day that there had only been a few arrests. I thought it quite a coincidence that I had witnessed all of them.)

Then, as soon as the fireworks started, I realized how out of control the situation was. People were setting off pretty big, professional-style fireworks in between the individual statues of the Agora, so we booked it out of there. (Plus, my dog was getting scared.) I was really glad I had my big-ass dog with me on the way home, though, because people clear out of her way, and I was able to escape quickly. Also, I had met friends there, so I was walking home solo, which I would not have felt comfortable doing in that crowd.

In years past, the corner of Michigan and Roosevelt has not been very busy, and no one has stopped in that park, so I thought it would be fine to bring my dogs. This year, there were hundreds of people hanging out there, and the mood was tense. ( I can't explain it, but there was a feeling of danger in the air that just wasn't present at the Obama election night rally or other major Grant Park events I've attended.) There were also probably about 100 cops, some in riot gear, working as fast as they could to defuse situations and arrest people. Unfortunately, they were not able to work fast enough to keep things truly under control.

I'm sure they're suppressing all the bad news from the Taste this year to keep the IOC from hearing about it. I'm really glad you're working on getting to the bottom of this; it really bothered me that the papers characterized this year's Taste as peaceful. Keep fighting the good fight!

anna plum said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

I was there on Saturday night heading east from the southernmost point of the food area, walking by the porta-potties, when a stampede of terrified people crossed our path--they were definitely running north, away from something scary; I assumed a gun. My friends and I continued east after the mob had passed, and found a place to watch the fireworks, which had already been going for a few minutes. Shortly after they ended, 20-30 police in riot gear appeared on our left, broke off into formation, and started charging north, as did a bunch of blue lighted vehicles of some kind, which were closer to the lake shore. I assume they were going after the "melee" that has been mentioned. It was memorable, as was the walk home through the loop. Police were actively looking for certain individuals, and the atmosphere still felt relatively lawless despite such an intensely heavy police presence--cops with billie clubs in hand, SWAT teams, federal agents with machine guns--the whole bit. I couldn't wait to get home to check the news and internet to find out what had happened. The news reports bore little resemblance to what I had just seen.

soxfun said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Anna, I am pretty sure the people you saw running were the same people me and my wife saw running. Yes it was a little scary but not THAT bad. Again, They were running from a fight not a gun as far as i could tell and i was pretty close to the "Action"

As far as the police etc are concerned it was very comforting knowing they were there like that. I am sure they were showing up in the gear and with the weapons they had to make sure nothing got to out of hand and in My Humble opinion it worked.

Frank M said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Mike, Just for a matter of reference, I attended the July 3rd fireworks debacle from 1995-2007 (missed 2006) and I can TOTALLY assure you that the fireworks start at 9:30pm. We started to go as a fun thing to do as young and dumb teenagers. Over the years the "event" got worse and worse till we were almost knifed by a Mexican gang banger. We would start this day of hell at about 11am and attend the taste and hang out at the planetarium area of the lake. The taste was the biggest cess pool of unruly sociopaths that I have ever experienced. I witnessed more fights there than any other one place in my life. Anybody that brings a child or their family to that event is nuts. Just one big zoo filled with wild animals.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

I've recently heard from the editor of Second City Cop to confirm details reported on that blog and this one. I've asked them to leave a comment here with additional details if they are so inclined.

See Second City Cops own coverage here.

karyn said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

My family and I were watching the fireworks from outside the Taste entrance on Congress Pkwy. Not long after the fireworks began a mass of people started fleeing out of the Taste and a siren went off. They definitely looked like they were running away from something. We had young children with us and it was really kind of scary. We didn't feel like it was safe to wait around and find out people were running from so we left immediately. I've seen posts on other blogs which say gunshots were fired in the area. I didn't hear anything, but I doubt I could tell the sound of gunshots from the fireworks. I believe there was probably a gun; people don't run like that from a fight or minor incident, they run like that when they are afraid for their lives.
It looks a lot like there was a cover up and I'm really disappointed. I know the city wants everything to look great to get the Olympics there, but really, what does deception like this say? Does this really make it look like the city can handle an event like that? Isn't it kind of embarrassing really? I don't think I'll be coming to city events anymore, especially if the media is telling me everything is peachy and safe, and it's really not. I think the police who were out there working the event did a great job, but if the people running the city and the police department aren't being honest with the public, I'll just stay home.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

Megan, thanks for commenting on behalf of the Mayor's Office of Special Events (as I assume you are from your defense of the CPD.) I agree with you, judging by many of the comments here and on several other local blogs and online news sites that reference this post, a better job should have been done to publicize the new time for the fireworks. Of course, that's a minor issue beside the point of this comment thread.

As far as the incident or incidents that allegedly happened in the vicinity of Buckingham Fountain and at and near (inside and outside) the Congress entrance to the Taste grounds--the real point of this thread, I appreciate your on-the-scene report. Given that many other commenters contradict your report, however, do you think it is possible that you missed something that may have happened at Buuckingham Fountain, perhaps due to your location?

It's a big fountain and Friday night was a crowded event. Where, exactly were you located relative to the fountain, to Congress, and to the green CPD security tower?

You say you were in the vicinity until approximately 8:30 p.m. Can you be any more specific than that? Are you sure about the time?

And you saw no disturbance of any kind? No running? No gangs? No paramedic response? No CPD response?

Not that I don't doubt what you're reporting. Well, not anymore than I doubt what everyone else is reporting. But as a representative of the Mayor's Office in this comment thread, I'm sure you can understand the cynicism.

While we're on that subject, I appreciate your attempt to co-opt the comment thread into a defense of rank-and-file police officers. Of course, everyone reading this post and commenting already read my defense of them in the post, itself.

Nice try. Let's put the focus back on the Mayor's Office and police brass, where it belongs.

mmmcd76 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Mike,

I arrived at the Fountain just at approximately 7:45 after introducing the 85th Army Band, who performed our concert prior to the Fireworks. This is why I am certain about the time. I entered the Fountain through the north Rose Garden and did notice large groups of people clearly not fond of each other.

I don't think I ever said that I didn't view any disturbance. I stood on the Fountain for approximately 45 minutes on the northwest side and noticed a fight break out and then several teenagers running and yelling "everybody run"...which is a little like yelling "fire" in a movie theater. People ran, and this was what I think people are referring to as the "stampede". I also viewed the same group of kids taking photos of all the scared patrons running off the Fountain. This is what teenagers apparently find amusing these days and it happened more than once throughout the night. I am not denying that.

What I also viewed on the Fountain table was the Chicago Police Department responding to calls over the radio, one of which I made myself. This is not me defending them - this is just simple fact. I never saw a paramedic on the Fountain table and never heard anything that even resembled a gun shot.

I left the Fountain Table at exactly 8:30 and headed back to our Operations Trailer (located on site) and was made aware of further events of large crowds "fleeing" a certain location, which were prompted either by kids yelling "run", by idiots lighting fireworks in large crowds, or simply because they were trying to get out of what they viewed as a volatile siutation.

At the end of the day, though, all of these disturbances were addressed and handled by the Chicago Police Department. And I think they did an admirable job, and I say that not to you who very clearly defended them, but to others who seem to suggest this was not the case.

I hope that I have at least clarified my position on this. What is great about this country is that everyone is entitiled to their own opinion of things, and I appreciate all the comments about the Taste of Chicago, both good and bad. What we learn from peoples feedback are things that we can work to improve on in the future. But at the end of the day, it is a festival that is attended by over 3 million visitors each year - and this year especially - we saw many more families, children and elderly attending, which tells me we are at least doing something right.

soxfun said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Well as usual people get too carried away. I was very close to Buckingham fountain when the "Trouble" started and it was anything but a Gang Melee. There was a bit of trouble but i have seen worse in Wisconsin Dells on a Tuesday night. Honestly!

Some of those links are ridiculous. I actually think the Newspapers may have gotten it right and thats hard for me to say.

soxfun said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

PS- There were NO Gunshots either. I am almost posotive what someone heard were firecrackers being blown off by a family of 4 people, 2 adults and 2 teenage kids. I believe they were M-80`s but i could very well be wrong.

soxfun said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Positive.

What i meant by very well could be wrong was that the Firecrackers ,ay not have been M-80`s. They were lighting a few off though and a couple were loud. They were also shooting them off in coke cans.

dmatthew said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Anabel as far as you saying that you saw a large group get arrested.The city does not count them towards their totals because they NEVER OFFICIALLY made it INSIDE the grounds of the taste. It's just a spin on the numbers. Just like when they report shootings in the city most are reported under different crimes to lower the actual number of shootings. It's a numbers game and the city and CPD are behind it all to make it look like crime is way down. In fact the real reason that homicides are probably down is actually because of the GREAT job the the CFD and EMERGENCY ROOM STAFF do to save the lives of the animals that are ruinnib=ng what was once a very proud city.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

Splendid. Thank you, Megan, for clarifying all of that. It's helpful to know.

I think it's worth noting no one here is criticizing the Taste organizers (i.e. the Mayor's Office of Special Events.) On my personal blog, Chicago Carless, I noted how much easier it was to move around the grounds thanks to the decision to create a single, wide aisle down the middle of Columbus.

This is an ongoing, crowd-leveraged query to determine what happened that evening.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

I want to let commenters know I've posted a follow-up to my original story detailing the things that have happened since Monday, including my ongoing activities to continue to investigate the alleged events and my rebuttal to a closed-minded response I got from a local print reporter.

If you're so inclined, you can find the follow-up post here.

Daniel X. O'Neil said:

user-pic

Huge high-five to Megan McDonald.

Mike Doyle said:

user-pic

See this Gapers Block Mechanics column post (GB's political column) for a look at what might happen negatively due to the Taste of Chicago violence issue raised by me on Chicagosphere and by the Second City Cop blog. Author Jacob Lesniewski (whom I've worked with before and a fine political thinker) wonders whether the City of Chicago will use the continued controversy over security at the Taste to begin racially profiling attendees in some way as a method of identifying gang members.

Hopefully not. Though judging by video of last week's event I've seen on YouTube (here's a clip sent to me by a reader), it looks more like this year the gang members announced themselves in no uncertain terms. Readers can judge for themselves.

Phantom946 said:

default userpic local-auth auth-type-mt

Mike, this is my first post with you, glad to be here. I made my way to your sight via Secondcitycop. I am a police officer and was assigned to the Taste fireworks detail. My specific area of responsibility was Buckingham Fountain. I can assure you that there were no shots fired at the fountain area and there most definitely was no one killed at the fountain, by any means much less by gun fire. I know nothing of a mini-stampede, although we did, for lack of a better word, "shag" some hooligans and thugs. But this is not unusual for such a large event. Were there sporadic pockets of problems...yes there were. Did we, the police, handle them...yes we did. I must say that I was very proud of the job we did on the 3rd. We, the police, set the tone and didn't allow the bad guys the opportunity to get a foot hold. All in all, it was a peaceful event, that is not to say that I would bring my family there, I will stick to watching the smaller more intimate displays closer to my neck of the woods. That is when I am not working.

Leave a Comment?

Some HTML is permitted: a, strong, em

What your comment will look like:

said:

what will you say?

Related Topics

Most Active Pages Right Now

ChicagoNow.com on Facebook