Old Town Residents Share Safety Concerns After ‘Unpermitted' Gathering at North Ave. Beach

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One day after a large event occurred at North Avenue Beach and exiting partygoers caused disturbances in surrounding neighborhoods, residents convened to discuss concerns about the recent incident and other ongoing issues.

Wednesday's "unpermitted" gathering on the North Side attracted more than 400 people to the lakeshore, mostly teens and young adults, according to 43 Ward Ald. Michelle Smith's office.

On Thursday, residents made their way into a previously scheduled crime meeting in Old Town where they brought up the recent chaos, but also expressed worries about even more potential problems as the weather gets warmer.

"We’re in the beginning of summer, this is going to be happening more and more," said resident Joe Jacobazzi. "...Want to hear what their plan is going forward in the future and how these things are going to be addressed."

The same night as the mayhem at North Avenue Beach, police observed gatherings at local gas stations and businesses in Old Town and Lincoln Park.

"It’s just crazy chaotic, I was shocked," said one gas station clerk. "That’s about it. I was shocked. Scared, not really, just very much shocked."

Smith, the local alderperson, reassured residents that police had a plan in place and she was satisfied with the response and thankful no one was hurt.

"This was an event that could have gone wrong, and our police didn’t let it go wrong," Smith said. "I’m so grateful for what happened."

However, videos posted to social media showed a crowd that appeared to be out of control.

"I saw the disturbance last night, and it just seemed like the police, as usual, are just reactive and not proactive," Jacobazzi said.

Authorities learned of the event in advance, and placed additional officers at entrance points to the beach, allowing them to search attendees for alcohol and drugs, Smith said.

Even still, attendees climbed on lifeguard towers and CTA buses, and police moved to break up the event in the late evening hours.

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