After a suspect allegedly killed five people and injured 48 others by driving into a crowded parade route in Waukesha, Wisconsin on Sunday evening, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city is continuing to evaluate its practices to ensure that event attendees remain safe as they celebrate.
During a press availability Monday, Lightfoot called Sunday’s incident in Wisconsin “heartbreaking,” and said that it has led city officials to rigorously examine their own security protocols for parades and festivals.
“Whenever something like this happens across the country, as a mayor you think ‘are we protected? Are we safe? And we’ve had that discussion,” she said. “Every time we have a large-scale event, whether it’s downtown or in a neighborhood, we block off the roads physically, whether it’s with squad cars, infrastructure equipment, (etc.). It leads to a lot of traffic issues, but we lock it down because we want to make sure that people can enjoy themselves and do so safely.”
The city just held its annual holiday kick-off events at Millennium Park and along the Magnificent Mile, and will hold its annual Thanksgiving parade on Thursday in downtown.
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Lightfoot says that the city deliberately blocks access points to parade routes in an effort to make it “very hard” to get vehicles anywhere near marchers and celebrants, and that they do so “intentionally.”
Even still, she says that in the aftermath of the Waukesha tragedy, she has ordered public safety officials and her staff to look into further ways to keep parade routes and festivals safe.
“We always have to check ourselves, and make sure that we’re doing everything we can, even when you’ve got somebody clearly determined to do harm, that we will literally block their ability to do that,” she said. “I think we’ve got a good plan in place, but we’ll never rest and we’re always going to be checking our safety protocols, particularly when some kind of tragedy like this happens.”
The suspect in the case, 39-year-old Darrell Brooks, is facing five counts of first degree intentional homicide in connection with Sunday’s incident, and could face additional charges as the investigation continues.
According to NBC 5 Investigates, Brooks was involved in a domestic disturbance just minutes before he drove his SUV onto the parade route and through a crowd. Brooks had bonded out of jail just two days before the incident, and the Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office is reviewing its decision to request a cash bail of $1,000 in connection with that case, in which Brooks was accused of resisting a peace officer, jumping bail and domestic abuse and battery.