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CHICAGO (CBS) – New Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy says officers are going to “clamp down very hard” against the perpetrators of mob violence near downtown.
As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, McCarthy did not give specifics Wednesday, but he said he has numerous officers assigned to an operation to thwart the teenage mobs.
“It’s criminal behavior, and we’re going to clamp down very hard,” he said. “The fact is, we have a plan.”
McCarthy said he added more officers to the growing operation on Wednesday. On Chicago Avenue near State Street Wednesday, the blue shirts were in no short supply.
“The police officers are walking around in groups, like gangs, almost,” said Chicago tourist Tori Wilfred, of Akron, Ohio.
For an idea of the police presence just off Michigan Avenue, officers from outside the Near North Patrol District were on the streets.
There is also an undercover component, as well as a very visible one. There are also officers at mass transit choke points to intercept gangs or kids looking for trouble.
The officers are walking the sidewalks and driving the streets, in marked and unmarked cars.
One man, who asked not to be identified, told one of the officers, “Don’t hold me liable for what I do to somebody who may jump me the way people have been getting jumped around here.”
Police caution not everything that has been seen or heard about has been a mob attack. But the latest incidents have still caused serious alarm.
Also in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood, people at 111th Street and Kedzie Avenue saw teens yelling and throwing bottles at pedestrians.
While witnesses said it looked like gangs, incidents such as the one in Mount Greenwood are not necessarily what the plan in place is working to prevent.
Still, seeing and hearing what she has, Wilfred is keeping her kids close.
When asked if the attacks would prevent her from visiting Chicago again, Wilfred said, “I don’t know.”
Then she said, “I won’t lie to you, it’s intimidating.”
An enormous portion of the billions of dollars stores, restaurants and museums earn every year comes from people who live in the suburbs and outside the Chicago area.
The city’s thriving tourism industry keeps hotel employees working. If people stop coming here because they’re scared of violent teenagers, middle class jobs will go away.
But police did point out Wednesday that they have made arrests in bona fide mob attacks and expect to make more.
Two similar attacks also happened this week on the city’s Near West Side, in which the victims were University of Illinois at Chicago students.