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Large groups of teenagers have gathered in the streets of Chicago multiple times over the summer for coordinated “teen takeovers” that often turn violent — but leftist Mayor Brandon Johnson is concerned about people calling the groups a “mob.”
Johnson, who was elected earlier this year, bragged about his “unique approach” to reaching Chicago’s youth as the city faces a wave of issues resulting from teenage crowds hitting the streets. After another “teen takeover” last weekend, Chicago police arrested 40 youths who were fighting and looting a convenience store, The Chicago Tribune reported. At a news conference Wednesday, Johnson said he ordered the arrests and was proud of the officers’ “sensitivity and patience” when dealing with the teens.
Police “attempted to engage with our young people, with community partners, giving as much warning as they possibly could,” Johnson said.
“That’s a unique approach. You know, many people expect us to treat people undignified. My administration is different,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, arrests were made. Unfortunately, some damage was caused. And the level of sensitivity and patience that our officers expressed, I’m appreciative of that. That is constitutional. That is a system of care.”
Johnson then complained that the rowdy teenagers were referred to as a “mob.”
“That’s not appropriate. We’re not talking about mob actions,” Johnson said. “We have to be careful when we use language to describe certain behavior. There’s a history in this city, and, I mean, to refer to children as like baby Al Capones is not appropriate.”
In June, hundreds of teens shut down a main street in the Lakeview neighborhood for six hours, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. One resident told WGN that she called 911 but was told “there was nothing they could do.”
“They were so overwhelmed at the moment that there were just way too many calls coming in,” the woman said.
Police who initially arrived on the scene were vastly outnumbered by the teens. The group started with a few dozen but eventually grew to more than 300 as word spread through social media.
“It’s terrifying,” said Grace Rohen, telling WGN that she also heard gunshots during the teen takeover. “It has been very chaotic and as somebody who’s lived in Lakeview for the past three years, it’s very scary to see how things have changed over time.”