Democratic mayor Lori Lightfoot is imposing a weekend curfew for all minors in Chicago following three shootings downtown last weekend that left one teenager dead.
"Young people are absolutely welcome downtown, but in the evening hours they must be accompanied by a responsible adult," Lightfoot said on Monday after she announced the 10 p.m. curfew. The fatal shooting occurred on Saturday in Millennium Park during a weekend that saw 33 total shootings, 5 of which were fatal.
Hundreds of teenagers gathered in the Chicago Loop over the weekend, in a chaotic scene that halted traffic and saw some jump up on top of cars. Police superintendent David Brown said the crowds appear to have coordinated their efforts on social media. Twenty-six minors and four adults were arrested in connection with the Millennium Park shooting, and police found seven guns among the arrestees.
Chicago in 2021 had its deadliest year in a quarter century, with 797 homicides recorded. Under Democratic governor J.B. Pritzker, Illinois ended cash bail the same year. Law enforcement leaders have criticized the elimination of cash bail, citing cases of released criminals who committed other crimes. In August, a man released on bond bought a handgun that was later used to kill a police officer.
Lightfoot has a strained relationship with city law enforcement, who in 2020 blamed her for surging police retirements following a summer of anti-police protests.
Chicago has long had a curfew for minors at 11 p.m., but it is unclear how strictly it's been enforced. In addition to beefing up park security, Lightfoot said she has directed the Chicago Police Department to increase tracing for guns found in the possession of minors.
The Illinois ACLU decried the mayor's curfew order, saying "the promise of strict enforcement will result in unnecessary stops and arrests and further strain relations between CPD and young people of color."
More than 200 citizens have been murdered this year in the Windy City. About half were younger than 30, and three-quarters were black.
The Washington Post reported seven fatal police shootings of black Chicagoans in 2021. There have been none so far this year.