It was a good news-bad news day for City Hall as Chicago announced improved homicide numbers but saw them overshadowed by the weekend melee on Michigan Avenue over the weekend. Phil Rogers reports.
Supt. Garry McCarthy wants to set the record straight on the weekend melee in which throngs of teens crowded Chicago's Michigan Avenue.
"There were no attacks," McCarthy told NBC Chicago Monday. "These were groups of kids who engaged in fighting with each other."
Police said 28 people were arrested when several large groups took to the streets Saturday night, blocking traffic and fighting. They were charged with misdemeanor reckless conduct and battery and later released, according to Police News Affairs.
Eleven other teens were charged with misdemeanor charges after they allegedly attacked a group of women on the CTA Red Line in a separate incident that night, police said.
"We've seen it before," McCarthy said of the mob. "We see it virtually every year when the weather gets warm. We were deployed, we were right on top of it and made the arrests. Preventing it is something that's very difficult to do."
Still McCarthy noted the weather isn't a justifiable reason for this or any violence in Chicago.
Pointing to a 69 percent decline in Chicago homicides in March, McCarthy said the city saw 36 fewer murders than in March 2012. He said it continues the six-month trend of a declining murder rate.
This time last year, Chicago set a record for high temperatures while this spring saw an unseasonable chill.
"When the weather warms up, yes, it does get busier, no two ways about it," McCarthy said, "but weather doesn't cause or prevent crime. It's an influence. There's more people on the street, and that's unfortunately when some of the gang violence really perks up."
McCarthy called Chicago's homicide decline "encouraging news" that signals progress. He noted multiple factors contribute to crime and the fight against crime, though, noting Chicago violence didn't start overnight and it won't end as fast either.
"It's not one thing. It's not like a Jenga game where if you pull out that one stick everything falls down."
The weekend melee left residents concerned that this could be the first in another string of violence downtown as tourist season kicks into high gear.
"It's been happening a lot around here," said Eric Baldinger, who works along the Mag Mile. "Just keep your wallet close and your purse closer."