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Did The City Raise A Downtown Bridge With People On It? No, Officials Say After Viral Video Surfaces

The video’s poster shared video showing him climbing a raised Downtown bridge just months earlier. The city described the latest incident as "extremely reckless and potentially deadly behavior."

  • Credibility:

RIVER NORTH — A viral video shows six people sitting atop a raised bridge over the Chicago River, with a caption declaring the city lifted the bridge while they were walking across it, leaving them stranded.

But city officials don’t believe that claim, calling the group trespassers who engaged in “extremely reckless and potentially deadly behavior.” And the video’s poster uploaded video showing him climbing a raised Downtown bridge just months ago.

The video shows six people sitting on top of the raised Franklin-Orleans Street bridge, high over the river. The group is sitting on the edge of the north side of the bridge as the bridge deck is virtually perpendicular to the ground.

The video pans to show the south portion of the bridge before showing the steepness of the raised bridge they are perched upon. The Riverwalk can be seen below, as can Merchandise Mart to the north.

“Just chilling,” one person said in the video.

“On a bridge … that’s raised,” another person says with a laugh.

A Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman said the agency is working with the Police Department to investigate the incident, which a spokesman said was an act of trespassing. The transit department controls the Downtown bridges.

“We are aware of the widely circulated video depicting individuals on raised bridges in the Downtown area,” the spokesman said in a statement. The agency is working to “hold all individuals participating in this extremely reckless and potentially deadly behavior accountable for trespassing.”

A city spokesperson said officials follow strict protocols when raising the bridges, including ringing bell and having workers on site to make sure the bridges are clear.

“They would be plainly visible” if they were on bridge when it was being raised, the official said. “There’s nowhere to hide.”

A spokesperson for the Police Department said the incident is under investigation and declined further comment.

The person who posted the video atop the raised bridge previously shared footage of himself scaling a Downtown bridge, using the sidewalk guard rails to walk up the structure. That video was uploaded May 31.

The video of the six people sitting atop the bridge was posted to Facebook on Monday, though it is not clear when it took place. The city raised Downtown bridges nightly Aug. 10 through Sunday in an effort to prevent looting in the city center. Bridges were also raised in early June following civil unrest Downtown.

The person who posted the video said the bridge was raised while the group was “walking across.”

“We waited up there for over an hour, just waiting for help,” the person said on Facebook. The person could not immediately be reached for comment.

That claim was repeated in other social media posts after the video was uploaded to Twitter. One video of the incident, captioned “Chicago officials raised the bridge not knowing a group was still crossing,” was viewed 3.6 million times on the platform.

But city officials dispute that claim, with one source saying it was not credible.

A photo of the group shows them climbing on the bridge via its sidewalk handrails. It is unclear from the photo if the group is descending or ascending the bridge.

Video of the incident shows a number of motorcycles parked at the base of the bridge, on top of which the group is sitting. The person who posted the video lists himself as the president of Chicago United Riders, a motorcycle group, and they tagged the motorcycle group in the video.

Block Club is not naming the person who posted the video because they have not been charged with a crime.

The Franklin-Orleans Bridge was constructed in 1920 and spans 320 feet, according to the Library of Congress.

Credit: Bob Chiarito/Block Club Chicago
Downtown bridges over the Chicago River were raised in late May to prevent people from easily going into the Loop. Officials said they’ll look at restricting access to the area overnight again this week.

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