Community responds to violent Halloween

Youths scramble away from police near the corner of 55th Street and Hyde Park Blvd. during the unrest on Halloween night. (Photo by Marc Monaghan)

Staff Writer

Hyde Parkers are coming to terms with another violent Halloween night less than 24 hours after hundreds of young people ran through downtown streets. It was a night of lawlessness, with several fistfights, robberies, damaged vehicles and small explosions. The police arrested 12 people.

Rachel Cane, who helped organize a party for teenagers at The Promontory, noted in a letter to the Good Neighbors Google Group that the event remained peaceful and fun for the hundreds of high schoolers who attended, calling it “a model that worked.” She said there is money from donations to go towards next year.

“I was optimistic we could work with local officials to bring Halloween night closer to our vision of a teen-led, adult-supported street festival,” Cane said. “Unfortunately it became clear that their main objective was to protect the retail corridor on 53rd and their stance towards teens was ambivalent at best. We had deep concerns about their strategy and the potential for conflicts to escalate and spread to the surrounding areas.

“It broke my heart to see and hear everything that happened outside tonight. This was all preventable,” she said.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) released a statement Thursday afternoon pledging action. She said she had heard community concerns before and after Halloween and had strategized with local organizations and the University of Chicago and municipal police departments ahead of the holiday.

“Those that attended the teen event at The Promontory and the family event for all ages on 53rd Street had a great time,” Hairston said. “However, teens that are bored do not have an excuse for criminal activity. This was not Halloween frolics. This was criminal activity.”

Hairston pledged review of social media and meetings with school administrations “to convey to the parents that there will be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.” An assistant confirmed the alderman was planning to host a community meeting to discuss the incidents, but no date or venue has been set.

Ald. Sophia King (4th), Chicago Police Second District Commander Dion Boyd and the South East Chicago Commission did not return requests for comment.