Chicago Police close roads to prevent another night of gridlock during Mexican Independence Day celebrations

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Drivers heading to downtown Chicago late Saturday night might have a tough time getting into the city. City leaders are hoping there will be no repeat of Friday night when people celebrating Mexican Independence Day packed the Loop, shutting down streets and, at times, overwhelming police.

Police were gearing up Saturday afternoon. Officers had already begun to mitigate traffic, ready to close down downtown if necessary — anything to prevent the gridlock of Friday night.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed the celebrations for Mexican Independence Day.

“This is a ripple effect,” she said. “We want people to enjoy our city. It’s a wonderful, beautiful city. We want people to enjoy it, but with everything there’s a balance and the balance in the commitment that we have to make to each other is to do it in a way that is respectful and peaceful.”

Friday night brought crowded streets, fireworks, and shut down roadways. Downtown was essentially shut down.

“We have hospitals downtown,” Lightfoot said. We have to make sure that they have a clear route.”

Police say one officer was hit in the face with a frozen water bottle.

Mexican Independence Day celebrations took over downtown Friday night, though mostly peaceful. The gridlock car caravans caused created major concern for people stuck in the traffic.

Saturday Illinois State Police were assisting Chicago Police in closing off many expressway routes into the city as well as monitoring the bridges themselves Saturday and the rest of the weekend.

Trained officers will have tire deflation devices on hand to close off popular intersections, and those caught causing the gridlock could be towed now or at a later date.

“We’re going to be be spiking your cars with the tire deflation devices at a great expense to you and then we’ll tow the car. We will be towing more cars,” said Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown. “So if your car is not towed, you should hear this message: We have video everywhere many of these celebrations are occurring. And when we identify your vehicle causing some of this public safety challenge that I just expressed, you can be towed at a later date with fines up to $10,000.”

In the middle of it all, CBS 2 obtained a video that seems to show officers dispursing a crowd, then one officer appears to make a threat, saying, “I’ll shoot you in the f****** head. Let’s go.”

CBS 2 asked police about it. They did not deny that it happened. They only told CBS 2 about an arrest they made at that location where people were driving donuts.

Then we asked Lightfoot about it.

“We Certainly are not going to tolerate anybody acting in a way that suggests that they are going to use excessive force or illegal force,” she ssaid.

Brown, who also did not refute the video, said that behavior is the exception, not the rule.

“You may have other examples that may be behavior from our officers but those have been the rare exception,” he said.

Officers told CBS 2 over the last two days they recovered four guns, towed three vehicles and impounded 16.. The mayor and police department are also warning that this is not punishment for celebrating in the streets. They just want to make sure that people to do it safely and that downtown avoids the gridlock of Friday night.

Source: ChicagoCBS