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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Rogers Park Memorial For Car Crash Victims Leads To ‘Tense’ Confrontation Between Police And Mourners

"I wish that people could gather to mourn and not have to worry about police coming to arrest anyone. I also wish that people could gather to mourn and that no one would show up carrying weapons," Ald. Maria Hadden said of the incident.

A Chicago Police car turns off of Michigan Avenue.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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ROGERS PARK — A memorial for two Rogers Park men killed in a Lake Shore Drive car crash was dispersed by police Monday after attendees of the vigil were found to be carrying guns, according to officials.

On Monday, friends and family of Jatwaun Smith and Leroy Francis gathered in Rogers Park to remember the two young men who died in a fiery crash on Lake Shore Drive Sunday.

A vigil held near Jonquil Terrace and Paulina Street was interrupted when police spotted a person with a gun, said Ald. Maria Hadden (49th).

The person with the gun was a close family member to one of the car crash victims, and other attendees of the vigil tried to stop his arrest, Hadden said. Video from the event, shared widely on Facebook, shows a chaotic scene where police and mourners scuffle in an alley before a man is apprehended and taken into police custody.

“Police stayed calm and many residents on the scene worked to diffuse the tension and deescalate the conflict,” Hadden said in a statement.

Following the arrest of the person with a gun, police left the scene and the vigil continued, eventually moving to Willye B. White Park, 1610 W. Howard St., Hadden said.

Cameras accessible to police captured “several” people in the crowd at the park armed with guns, Hadden said.

A large police contingent, including a police helicopter, worked to clear White Park late Monday night. Dozens of officers were staged in the strip mall parking lot at Clark and Howard streets, photos shared on social media show.

At 11:45 p.m., police were working to disperse the crowd when a women struck two officers in the forearm and attempted to resist arrest, a Chicago Police spokesperson said. The 39-year-old woman was charged with misdemeanor battery and misdemeanor resisting a peace officer, according to police.

The crowd dispersed without further incident, Hadden said.

“Relations between residents and our police officers were tense at times,” Hadden said. “I’m thankful to the residents who managed to keep a fraught situation from turning violent or more dangerous and I’m thankful to the police officers on site who maintained their professionalism and kept calm.”

Like the rest of the city, Rogers Park has seen an increase in shootings this year. Police responded to the vigil to deter gun violence, Hadden said. Still, she wished the events of Monday could have happened differently.

“I wish that people could gather to mourn and not have to worry about police coming to arrest anyone,” Hadden said in the statement. “I also wish that people could gather to mourn and that no one would show up carrying weapons.”

Smith and Francis were killed after their car hit a concrete barrier around 3:20 a.m. Sunday in the 1000 block of North Lake Shore Drive, igniting the car on fire, Chicago Police said in an incident report.

“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Hadden said.

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