SOUTH SHORE — Daily walks through Rainbow Beach Park are part of Jami Peurala’s regular routine, but Sunday morning that routine was disrupted by squad cars and barricades.
“They wouldn’t let me in the park,” said Peurala, who has lived in a co-op across the street from the park at 3111 E. 77th St. for 35 years. “I asked if something had happened and no one would answer my questions.”
Peurala said she was taken aback by the number of police cars, horses and barricades near the park entrance, and noticed that the police were denying entry to drivers and pedestrians, only allowing CTA buses through.
She tried to press for answers, and found an officer willing to talk to her.
“She told me that it was all for a police training, which I thought was strange,” said Peurala. “I left for my walk, and when I came back around noon, there were more police.”
But according to a Chicago Police Department spokesperson, there was no training. Officers had been dispatched to Rainbow Beach Park after learning that a large gathering of teens and young adults was headed that way. The crowd never came.
Peurala said another officer also told her it was a training exercise.
“I even asked how long the shutdown would be. They told me as long as they needed to, as long as the training lasts,” Peurala said.
The idea that it was a training session — on a gorgeous Easter day without warning, upset her.
“I was getting a little hot under the collar myself. It was outrageous. It’s a beautiful Easter Sunday, families want to walk in the park. Why weren’t we notified about the training?”
Peurala said that after seeing every single street entrance from Cheltenham to 75th Street was blocked by a police SUV and barricades for hours, she reached out to park supervisor Ryan Morris and Ald. Greg Mitchell (7th). A representative from Mitchell’s office responded to her Facebook inquiry, saying that due to “very sensitive and credible intel” the park had been closed, promising more details at a later time.
Mitchell was unavailable for comment.
The incident is expected to be discussed at a regularly scheduled meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Rainbow Park Beach field house.