Home Local Not illegal for teenagers to gather downtown, but officers will take action if they break the law, top cop says

Not illegal for teenagers to gather downtown, but officers will take action if they break the law, top cop says

by staff

After a 16-year-old boy was fatally shot in Millennium Park over the weekend during a mass gathering of teenagers, Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said at a news conference Tuesday that while it’s not illegal for youths to gather downtown, officers are prepared to take action if they break the law.

Seandell Holliday, 16, was fatally shot near the The Bean sculpture Saturday, and a 17-year-old teenager named Marion Richardson has been charged in the shooting. The violence promoted Mayor Lori Lightfoot to ban unaccompanied minors from visiting Millennium Park after 6 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday.

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Brown said teenagers have gathered in set locations after distributing “fliers” on social media websites such as Facebook and Instagram. Officers monitor social media to try to learn where those gatherings will take place.

Brown added that officers won’t arrest teenagers for simply gathering, but if theybreak the law, then officers will take action.

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“So we’re not sitting there standing on our hands, waiting for things, but we are engaging these young people and working to make sure they follow the laws, and when they do break the laws, we take strict law enforcement actions,” Brown said.

When asked about lessons learned from the weekend at the unrelated news conference, Chief of Patrol Brian McDermott, who is tasked with the operation plans, said, “We’ll continue to improve as the summer goes on, and eventually, we’ll get this right. But when you think of hundreds, if not thousands of teens, as we had on Saturday, no matter how many officers we have down there, the situation is always going to be chaotic. It’s never going to be perfect. It’s never going to be pretty, but we’ll continue to improve and do our best.”

During Richardson’s first appearance in court Monday, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said that Holliday jumped on Richardson’s back and punched him in the head before Richardson fired the fatal shot.

As Richardson was being arrested, he told police, “You guys ain’t gonna do nothing anyways, a hundred (expletive) walking toward me, what am I supposed to do? You all just sitting there, bro,” Murphy said.

Richardson faces one count of second-degree murder alleging he killed Holliday in an unreasonable belief that he was justified in firing out of self-defense. Richardson is also charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, meaning the case was automatically transferred to adult court.

pfry@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @paigexfry

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