Planning and weather help make HP’s Halloween the calmest in four years

Police disperse crowds of teens near the Hyde Park Bank after altercations on Halloween night. (Photo by Spencer Bibbs)

Staff writers, and

Contributing writer

After a calm start, minor violence marred the end on Hyde Park’s Halloween celebration, but the neighborhood did not suffer the level of damage it experienced the previous three years.

Police detained three youths in the 1400 block of East Hyde Park Boulevard after they started fighting.

The early evening was calm around the 53rd Street corridor. A healthy turnout of trick-or-treaters did their best to integrate their costumes around the winter coats that the unseasonably cold weather required them to wear.

“The only danger that happened to me is that I came to give candy, and I slipped down the stairs,” said Fotini Gounari on the 5100 South block of Dorchester Avenue.

Her neighbor, Ben Goodwin, said he had planned to have a bonfire but cancelled it because of the weather. Both said they were involved in the CollaBOOration effort that Hyde Parkers had planned to keep residential streets safe.

“The biggest thing is to just be mindful of the neighborhood and who’s out here,” Goodwin said. “We’ve had a really good turnout this year, more than most years.”

There were a few minor squabbles as the night wore on, but nothing serious. At one point, some teenagers were asked to leave, and a crowd moved away from a small stage set up at 53rd Street and Harper Court to watch a quarrel, but they returned later to watch dancers compete for cash prizes.

Security had set up checkpoints around 53rd Street and screened attendees before entry.

Police and security personnel appeared to outnumber the partiers for much of the night.

Around 8:45 p.m., though, multiple fights broke out in front of the stage, and organizers ended the concert. Police began to disperse the youth and get them away from businesses.

Police detained the three youths between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. Volunteers with the National Lawyers’ Guild Legal Office and Assata’s Daughters, a Chicago anti-police violence organization, tried to get their names and assured them that they would get attorneys.

Volunteers with Good Kids Mad City, a youth-led anti-violence group that Ald. Sophia King (4th) invited to help plan Halloween strategy this year, engaged in de-escalation with the youths.

“You all don’t have to go home, that’s not what I’m saying. We know you’re all out here to have fun: Have fun,” said Taylore Norwood to youth on the 5400 south block of Lake Park Avenue. “But move around, don’t sit right here. This is not a game. They will arrest y’all. There were little girls just your size getting choked-slammed by 12s (police officers) last year.”

“We’re out here trying to help y’all,” she continued. “I’m not an adult: I’m 19. I’m trying to help y’all not get arrested. I need y’all to just disperse. Don’t stand here on this corner.”

Chartered CTA buses transported youths away from Hyde Park on Route 15, the Jeffrey Local Route, and the Route Stony Island 28.