DOWNTOWN — Millennium Park’s “youth escort policy,” which limits when young people can be in the park without an adult, started last week.
Here’s what you need to know about the new rules, which are in place Thursday through Sunday even during free special events.
What Is The Millennium Park Curfew?
The policy, which Mayor Lori Lightfoot claims will help prevent Downtown violence, bans youth younger than 18 from the park after 6 p.m. if they are not with an adult who is 21 or older.
Who Can Still Use The Park?
Adults 21 and older can use the park 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. People younger than that must be accompanied by a “responsible” adult who is 21 or older if they are entering the park after 6 p.m., Lightfoot has said.
Each adult can accompany no more than four minors at a time.
What Security Steps Have Been Added?
People entering the park must go through security checkpoints, including a bag check and a metal detector.
When Is The Millennium Park Curfew In Effect?
The Millennium Park curfew is in effect after 6 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.
Local leaders can enforce the policy at any time on an “as-needed basis” when “circumstances demonstrating a substantial likeliness of large gatherings of unsupervised youth,” according to the rules.
The park plans to implement this policy “during all public events,” a Millennium Park spokesperson said. This includes the 2022 Millennium Park Summer Season, which includes dozens of free admission concerts, movie screenings, dance performances and special events — many of which start after 6 p.m.
When Does The Policy Go Into Effect?
It is already in effect Thursdays through Sundays.
Lightfoot has not said when, if ever, the policy could end.
What Consequences Could Kids Face If They Break The Curfew?
Despite repeated questions, Lightfoot has declined to say what consequences teens will face if they defy the ban or curfew. In a recent news conference, she said city officials would “exhaust all other options” before they take law enforcement actions.
Lightfoot has said officials are not trying to jail children who break the curfew — but if young people violate it, they “won’t hesitate to take action.”
How Have Chicagoans And Tourists Responded?
It’s not the first time security checkpoints have been used at Downtown parks, but they’re typically for large events — not for everyday life. While the checkpoints received backlash from Chicagoans online, most visitors in the park said they didn’t mind the extra security. Several tourists said the precautions made them feel safer after the recent shootings.
“It’s good because … anything can happen,” said Paola Encolna, who was visiting from Florida.
Both policies have received backlash from aldermen, youth community organizers and the ACLU of Illinois.
“It could turn into an overboard policy that encourages unconstitutional stops and searches of young people and results in racially-biased policing,” said Alexandra Block, senior supervising attorney with the ACLU of Illinois.
In addition, a clause in the citywide curfew crackdown would exempt teens coming home from music fests like Lollapalooza, which attracts wealthy white teens from the suburbs and tourists. Young Chicagoans have said the curfew loophole is unfair to Chicago teens who also want to experience Downtown but can’t afford to buy tickets to pricey events.
One day after the rules went into effect, a 22-year-old man refused to be checked for weapons at an entry gate, then ran from security guards who approached him, police said. Prosecutors said the man turned toward officers while aiming a handgun when one of the guards, an off-duty Cook County sheriff’s police officer, fired at him, according to the Sun-Times.
The man was ordered held without bail Sunday.
What Is The Citywide Curfew?
The Millennium Park curfew follows the addition of a proposed ordinance from Lightfoot to permanently move the city’s curfew to 10 p.m. daily for anyone younger than 18. Two alderpeople delayed a vote on the issue Monday, raising questions about whether it has enough support to become law. The City Council will vote on the proposal Wednesday.
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