John Dempsey, WLS Radio (Chicago), June 24, 2011
WLS Radio is learning more about what happened on Chicago’s lakefront on Memorial Day, the day witnesses say thugs overran the Gold Coast beaches and the day the city said it shut down North Avenue Beach because of hot weather.
WLS Radio filed a Freedom of Information request (FOIA) for the 911 calls, which show people concerned not with hot weather but with the presence of intimidating thugs.
“Yes, there’s a fight breaking out on the beach because there’s nothing but animals covering this beach today,” a woman says in one of the calls. “I mean, you can’t even walk along the bike path or ride along the bike path. There’s no crowd control. What the hell is going on?”
Now Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy is defending his initial response about what happened on Memorial Day. McCarthy issued a statement Thursday night that said the city closed North Avenue Beach because of hot weather and that that decision was not related to any activity at Oak Street Beach which the 911 calls show is where most of the violence reports came from.
The spokesman says that one ambulance was called to the North Avenue boat house to respond to a report of a person overcome by hot weather, and says that ambulance was then overrun with up to a dozen people who also were overcome by the heat.
He says that ambulance called for more ambulances which had trouble getting through the large crowds, which is why he says the city made the decision to close North Avenue Beach.
The spokesman also told WLS that after the incident, reporters never specifically asked Police Supt. Garry McCarthy about violence at Oak Street.
He says even if they had, McCarthy might not even have known at the time about the 911 reports of violence at Oak Street Beach.