Morgan Greene, Chicago Tribune, April 18, 2019
Nearly 30 young people were arrested in downtown Chicago on Wednesday night when fights broke out as hundreds of students and about 200 officers wound through bustling streets.
Twenty males and six females — all juveniles — were taken into custody, most of them charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and released to their parents, a police spokesman said Thursday morning.
Waller said there were probably about 500 teens traveling through the city. Shortly after 9 p.m., police lined the middle of State Street outside the Chicago Theatre. More than a dozen officers on bikes surrounded the teens and blared their sirens. About 15 minutes later, a large group bolted back to the corner of State and Lake streets as two women posed for a photo in front of the Chicago Theatre marquee.
Arrests were made on charges including disobeying orders to disperse and trespassing, Waller said. There were no reported injuries aside from bruises and bumps, he said.
Waller spoke about socioeconomic challenges facing Chicago and finding other modes of entertainment for the teens. He praised the officers’ response: “They’re so tolerant of these kids who are just so disrespectful, cursing at them, saying the things that they say.
“We’ve faced this challenge for the past few years, coming up with different strategies and trying to do some intervention,” Waller said.
Earlier in the night, on the third day of spring break for Chicago Public Schools, a large group of teens gathered at Millennium Park. Police moved the teens out of the park after several fights broke out.
For about a decade, Chicago police have periodically dealt with large crowds of teens who swarm the downtown area to spend time along the lakefront, Water Tower Place, Millennium Park or other spots when the weather starts to warm up.
There’s often been cases when the crowds have proved to be a nuisance for the police with some teens getting into fights, vandalizing property and shoplifting or committing other crimes.
Police, however, have stressed that this phenomenon, involving large groups of teens, is not unique to Chicago. Philadelphia has had problems with mobs of teenagers, who also used social networking, assaulting pedestrians and vandalizing property since at least 2010, according to media reports.