Reporting Suzanne Le Mignot
(CBS) – Lit fireworks thrown into crowds. Purses and phones stolen. Gangs beating up people and fighting with each other on Oak Street Beach.
Those are some of the occurrences callers reported to 9-1-1 operators on the night of the July 4.
CBS 2′s Suzanne Le Mignot reviewed tapes of the calls.
At 9:23 p.m., a 9-1-1 call is made about fireworks being set off among crowds of people at Oak Street Beach.
“We’re over here by Division and Lake Shore Drive by Oak Street Beach, and there’s a crowd of people throwing M-80′s by the people,” one called tells an emergency dispatcher. “They’re just blowing them off and there’s like crowds of people here with their kids and they don’t care.”
The operator says they’ll send the beach patrol.
At 9:34 p.m., a caller at the beach says a fight is breaking out: “Yeah, we need the cops down here on Oak Street Beach. There’s a whole gang of hoodlums fighting and kicking each other in the head and jumping on each other.”
A caller also mentions people trying to escape the chaos by crossing a busy roadway.
“We need cops out here ASAP,” he says.
Later, a caller reports purses being stolen at Division and Oak.
“People are running, things are getting stolen,” the caller says. “People are hitting the ground.”
Another caller says: “We’re at Oak Street Beach and there are gangs of kids beating up people here. I don’t know if there’s any cops in the area.”
The Chicago Police Department says its staffing was appropriate on July 4.
“While there were a few isolated incidents near the Division Street underpass in which three robberies were reported, there were more than one million people along the lakefront for the fireworks on the Fourth and there were no widespread, significant issues,” the agency said in a statement. “While we do not discuss specific staffing levels, we always ensure we have the appropriate staffing for events in the city and in each of (the) isolated incidents reported, police responded quickly and made arrests.”