CHICAGO - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Saturday that Mexican Independence Day celebrations in the city are fine in moderation, but are not acceptable when they block streets and keep residents up all night, which is why police will be using new crowd control tactics on Saturday night.
The annual celebrations started on Thursday night and continued Friday night. Tens of thousands of people came on foot and in cars to Chicago's Loop, waving Mexican flags, lighting fireworks, playing music and "drifting" in intersections. More partying is expected on Saturday night, but this time, partiers will be met by additional police tactics to keep traffic moving and people safe.
"We will be towing more cars," Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said, warning that cars might not be towed on the spot, but could be towed later – at a cost of $10,000. "Drag racing and drifting will not be tolerated. Those cars will be towed on the scene or at a later date under the new ordinance."
Brown said officers will be using "tire deflation devices" on Saturday night to put drivers who are dragging and drifting out of commission. There will also be road closures, some in conjunction with Illinois State Police. Closures will include downtown bridges and parts of DuSable Lake Shore Drive. Some exits off interstates including the Ohio Street exit will also be closed.
"Celebrate safely, but we must have public safety," Brown said.
The partying prevented Loop workers from getting home in a timely fashion, the mayor said, and kept Loop residents up for hours.
"Last night, no doubt cultural pride was certainly on display, and we save many people celebrating safely all over our city," Lightfoot said. "But unfortunately, what was also on display last night I think diminished the celebration of this important anniversary of Mexican Independence Day. Some were engaged in unsafe and reckless behavior. Blocking major roadways to do donuts is not safe. Lighting fireworks in the middle of the street is not safe. Hoking horns and loud music til all hours of the night is not being respectful to neighbors in the downtown and other neighborhoods."