‘Why Do You Need A Gun To Enjoy The Beach?’

LINCOLN PARK — Police arrested 13 people and seized 11 guns at North Avenue Beach on Memorial Day, stemming from another large party on the beach that was promoted on social media.

The party was promoted as a 2000s-themed cookout and drew hundreds of people, according to the Sun-Times.

Police Supt. David Brown said more officers were assigned to the beach after police saw social media posts promoting the party, “anticipating that we’d need them.” Those posts were taken down at police request.

More officers came to the beach once the crowd started growing, Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott said. At one point, a large group of teenagers who were playing loud music and dancing started throwing glass bottles and other objects at officers, McDermott said. One officer was in the chest with a pineapple, McDermott said.

Officers began a “mass arrest,” taking into custody people who were throwing objects at police McDermott said. The crowds were mostly peaceful but on occasion, conflicts would break out among smaller groups where “someone would pull a gun on somebody else” McDermott said.

Officers recovered 11 guns by the end of the night, Brown said. Twelve men and a 17-year-old boy are facing weapons charges among other violations, according to the Sun-Times.

“Who takes a gun to the beach? Why do you need a gun to enjoy the beach?” Brown said at a press conference Tuesday.

Brown said police can send more or fewer officers to city beaches anytime, but the department has to be judicious about where officers are stationed given recent violent crime on public transit, Downtown and in neighborhoods.

“We have to be really careful in not just staging somewhere where there’s not likely to have something happen, but being cognizant that anytime things could happen that we don’t anticipate,” Brown said.

This is the second recent instance of a large party drawing hundreds of people to the beach, which has angered residents and local elderpeople.

Around 400 people, mostly 14-21 years old, came to the beach in mid-May in an unpermitted party promoted on social media. Some of the people there climbed onto lifeguard towards and nearby CTA buses.

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), whose ward encompasses the beach, condemned the unpermitted party and said she wanted the city to take legal action against the organizers.

In a community meeting, police officials said they were caught off guard by the party and did not have time to strategize to keep the crowds under control. Old Town neighbors said they were “terrified” by the mass of people, and demanded answers from local leaders to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said officers tried things like reducing access to North Avenue Beach and restricting local transit options to make it more difficult for people to get to the area. Officers held a “pretty long meeting” in the party’s aftermath to debrief the incident, he said.

“They didn’t have a long enough warning for what was about to happen. They had mere hours to prepare for that, rather than days,” Hopkins said. “They did what they could in a short period of time. Was it effective? … It was not an effective response.”

18th District Police Commander Jon Hein said Chicago Police tried to prepare for the party after they were notified about it, but when the crowd began to “swell,” he decided it was safest to make everyone leave.

“That’s when we engaged and I decided to shut it down, because when it gets dark on the beach, you can’t see within the crowds or what’s going on,” Hein said. “So we decided for public safety of the kids involved and the officers involved that enough was enough.”

Hein said he requested additional resources to prevent such large gatherings going forward and that the resources were “shored up.”

“I believe in proactive policing,” Hein said. “I don’t like to sit back and watch what unfolded on the beach happen.”

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