This weekend saw chaotic scenes in downtown Chicago, as hundreds of young people took over the city center in what has been dubbed “Teen Takeover”. The teenagers caused mayhem in the streets, smashing cars, blocking traffic and even engaging in fights. The evening ended in tragedy, as two teenage males, aged 16 and 17, were shot in the crowd.
The incident has sparked a heated debate in the city, with Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson warning against vilifying the youth involved in the takeover. Johnson, a progressive who defeated moderate Democrat Paul Vallas earlier this month, believes that rather than demonizing young people, the city should create spaces for them to gather safely and responsibly.
Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson on last night’s chaos in the Loop: “In no way do I condone the destructive activity we saw in the Loop and lakefront this weekend. It is unacceptable and has no place in our city. However, it is not constructive to demonize youth…” pic.twitter.com/CdkFfao4p0
— Gregory Pratt (@royalpratt) April 16, 2023
Current Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who lost re-election earlier this month, also condemned the violence and chaos in the streets, calling for parents to be more responsible for their children’s actions.
The takeover was advertised on social media and the Chicago police have arrested nine adults and six juveniles in connection with the incident. Most of the arrests were for reckless conduct, while a 16-year-old male was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, and two other suspects were charged with possession of a stolen vehicle.
The incident has reignited the debate around crime in the city, with Chicago police struggling to contain the rising levels of violence in recent years. The city has seen the highest level of homicides in 25 years this year.
Johnson faced criticism during his campaign for his past support for reallocating funds from the police department to other social services. He has since clarified his stance, saying he will not reduce the police budget but believes that hiring more officers alone will not solve the city’s crime problems.
NEW: In response to the ‘Teen Takeover’ in Chicago over the weekend, Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson briefly condemned the violence before lashing out at those criticizing the criminals.
“It is not constructive to demonize youth who have otherwise been starved of opportunities in… pic.twitter.com/FoJMs8aXW7
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) April 17, 2023