CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - A Chicago alderman believes “soft on crime” policies by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx helped embolden hundreds of teens who took part in a massive "wilding" in downtown Chicago Wednesday night.
Chicago police say more than 30 teens were arrested, and it has merchants on the Mag Mile jittery.
Police estimate about 500 teens, spurred on by social media, flooded into the downtown area, many intending to create havoc.
Tourists scrambled as a huge brawl broke out in Millennium Park and police say the teens snatched purses and cellphones, and flooded into stores to smash and grab merchandise.
Hundreds of police responded, arresting 31 people on charges ranging from mob action to battery -- most later released to family members.
Michelle Bieke runs Sweetwater Tavern on North Michigan Avenue, which had a front row view of the mayhem.
"We would love to show our guests the best of Chicago. And that's not quite what happened here last night,” she said.
"If there's no consequences to criminal acts you're going to see an increase in criminal acts,” said Alderman Brian Hopkins.
Hopkins, whose second ward includes part of North Michigan Avenue, says it's clear looking at social media that the teens flooding downtown last night are emboldened by new policies by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, who has declined to prosecute many low level crimes like shoplifting and theft.
"You don't even get a slap on the wrist anymore. You get a ride home. So that's happening in increasing numbers and it's disturbing and it has implications for the downtown area, where retailers are seeing their shrinkage rates from theft increase dramatically,” Hopkins said.
Police say no one was injured Wednesday night and they continue to monitor social media for future wildings.