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Lightfoot Bans Youth From Millennium Park On Weekend Nights After 16-Year-Old Shot Dead

The ACLU has criticized the ban, which says youth must be accompanied by a "responsible" adult to be in Millennium Park after 6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.

People visit the Cloud Gate in Millennium Park on June 9, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot has banned youth from Millennium Park on weekend nights after a 16-year-old was killed near The Bean.

Lightfoot’s ban outlaws minors who are not accompanied by an adult from going to Millennium Park after 6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Children are still allowed if they are with a “responsible” adult, and the policy will be “strictly enforced and violations will be dealt with swiftly,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

The ACLU quickly criticized the ban, saying it limits the park’s availability.

“The mayor’s announcement suggests that our city’s showcase park should not be available for all residents of Chicago,” Ed Yohnka, ACLU of Illinois director of Communications and Public Policy, said in a statement to WTTW. “Curfews and bans create group culpability for all young people — whether they are there to enjoy the sights and sounds of downtown or something else.

“The vague description — relying on an undefined ‘responsible adult’ – allowing young people to be present in the park and the promise of strict enforcement will result in unnecessary stops and arrests and further strain relations between CPD and young people of color.”

The ban came just a day after Seandell Holliday, 16, was shot dead at The Bean during a night that saw large groups of young people gathering Downtown.

The shooting happened about 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the 200 block of East Randolph Street, police said. Holliday was shot in his chest and taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A 17-year-old has been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated battery and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in connection to the shooting, police said. The teen was arrested “moments” after he shot Holliday, police said.

“Tragically, a young person — a teenager — lost his life last night in Millennium Park,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “We, as a city, can not allow any of our public spaces to become platforms for danger. Anyone coming into our public spaces should expect to enjoy them peacefully and must respect and exhibit basic community norms of decency. We simply will not accept anything less.”

The 17-year-old claimed Holliday had jumped on his back and punched his head, prosecutors said Monday, according to the Tribune. He was ordered held on $250,000 bond.

RELATED: Slain Teen Seandell Holliday Dreamed Of Opening A Music Studio — But Feared He Wouldn’t Live To 21

Overall, officers arrested 26 juveniles and four adults during that night, police said. Seven guns were found, and two officers were injured, police said.

Lightfoot said she thinks the “overwhelming majority” of the young people who were at the park were there for a “good time and [to] enjoy a summer evening,” but the “scene devolved into one of chaos and unnecessary violence.”

The mayor said the ban is in effect immediately. She did not say when it could end, nor has the city explained what consequences people will face for not following the ban.

Lightfoot said the city will partner with local school systems to educate youth about the policy.

“As a city, we must ensure that our young people have safe spaces to congregate and that in those spaces they are peaceful and actually safe,” Lightfoot said. “I am calling on all parents, guardians, and caring adults to step up at this moment and do whatever it takes to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again and to encourage appropriate behavior when our young people gather anywhere in this great city of ours.”

The Downtown area and beaches have for years seen large groups of youth getting together periodically the spring and summer. Last week, a gathering at North Avenue Beach attracted more than 400 young people. Such events have led to concern about safety from some officials.

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