CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tightened a citywide curfew for young people on Monday, a day after she restricted access by unaccompanied minors to downtown Chicago’s Millennium Park following the weekend shooting death of a 16-year-old boy near “The Bean” sculpture at the park.
The citywide weekend curfew for minors now will begin each night at 10 p.m., instead of the 11 p.m. curfew in place since the 1990s, Lightfoot said. At Millennium Park, which is a popular stop for tourists and Chicago residents, minors will not be allowed in the park after 6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday without an adult.
“We need to make sure they are safe and importantly that our young people understand and respect basic community norms, respect for themselves, respect for each other, and we must ensure that every one of our residents and visitors — no matter who they are or where they come from or how old they are — are able to safely enjoy our public spaces,” the mayor told reporters at a news conference.
Lightfoot said she hoped and expected that people would abide by the restrictions and that it would not lead to widespread arrests. She said they “don’t want to arrest children,” but those who break the law will be.
“My interest is not rounding up young people and throwing them in the back of a wagon,” Lightfoot said. But, she said, those who do not abide “by clear directions on how they have to conduct themselves in public, we’re not going to hesitate to take action.”
The announcements come at a time of year when residents and tourists alike flock to the downtown area and the lakefront by the tens of thousands. Millennium Park is the centerpiece of the lakefront, the “jewel,” as Lightfoot called it, that is the site of concerts and other events.
On Sunday, police announced that a 17-year-old boy who was taken into custody following Saturday evening’s shooting had been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated battery. He was due in juvenile court Monday.
Another teen, who was allegedly armed with a ghost gun — a weapon that does not have a serial number and can’t be traced — was arrested in connection to the shooting, police said.
In total, 26 minors and five adults were arrested during the gathering in the park on Saturday evening. A total of eight guns were confiscated and five gun arrests were made, police said.
Hundreds of people were at the park earlier Saturday as part of demonstrations around the U.S. against the recently leaked draft opinion that suggests the Supreme Court is prepared to overturn the nationwide right to abortion. It is unclear if the teen who was shot had taken part in the 1 p.m. demonstration, however participants had largely dispersed by late afternoon.
The shooting comes amid a surge in deadly violence in the city in recent years. This year, Chicago has recorded 779 shooting incidents and 194 homicides, compared to 898 shootings and 207 homicides during the same period in 2021, according to figures last updated by the Chicago Police Department on May 8.
Chicago and some other U.S. cities reported dramatic spikes in homicide totals last year. Chicago’s 797 homicides in 2021 — its highest toll for any year in a quarter century — eclipsed the totals in the two bigger U.S. cities, surpassing Los Angeles’ tally by 400 and New York’s by nearly 300.
“The Bean” sculpture is a popular tourist attraction in downtown Chicago. It is formally known as “Cloud Gate,” but it came to be known as “The Bean” for its bean-like shape.