CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police drew a hard line on parties in the city Saturday as the stay-at-home order continues.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reported, Mayor Lightfoot called large gatherings reckless and foolish, and she said she knew some large parties were being planned for Saturday night.
Lightfoot did not mince words as she spoke, and her argument was about as subtle as a sledgehammer.
As temperatures soared into the mid-70s on Saturday, many people flocked to the city’s front yard. The lakefront remains closed and people respected that reality, and the Petrillo Band Shell in Grant Park may have provided the next best backdrop for fun and games.
But when it comes to warm-weather parties, Mayor Lightfoot was sounding anything but playful. She spoke vehemently as she urged people to stop defying the order and stop hosting parties, saying police will arrest people if necessary to stop the parties.
“We are not playing games. We mean business. The time for education into compliance is over. Don’t be stupid,” the mayor said.
Mayor Lightfoot said compliance with the stay-at-home order has dropped from 82% down to 77% in the last week. She also said the time for educating people into compliance is over.
“I’m not going to allow any individuals to upend the progress,” she said. “I can’t make this any clearer. You absolutely must stay home, and that means your home, not somebody else’s home, not an Airbnb.”
The mayor called a news conference Saturday afternoon at Springfield Avenue and Adams Street in the East Garfield Park neighborhood, where police were tipped off that a large party was planned for Saturday night.
It was also on the West Side – in the Galewood neighborhood – where viral images of an illegal party were seen around the world.
Chicago Police Department Supt. David Brown said the department is aware of six parties planned for Saturday night. The city is reaching out to the hosts advising them to cancel their parties.
“CPD has the ability to arrest offenders that adamantly refuse to observe the stay-at-home order,” he said. “We’ll be towing cars if necessary.”
“We will shut you down. We will cite you, and if we need to we will arrest you. And we will take you to jail,” Lightfoot said.
Officials asked that anyone with knowledge of a party report it to the city. Brown said reporting “does not make you a bad neighbor. It makes you a hero who will be saving lives.”
Rosa Escareno, the commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, said the city is working with shared space companies such as Airbnb to put an end to parties. Anyone violating the stay-at-home order by allowing parties to be hosted will no longer be permitted to rent in the city, she said.
To report a party, residents can call 911, make a report online at CPDtip.com or text 274-637 and begin the text with “CPD.”
Lightfoot said the coronavirus remains a threat.
“We’re going to stay in the status quo as long as we need to,” she said. “It’s still here, folks, ruthlessly attacking people all over the city. Today or tomorrow we’re going to top 1,000 deaths. Going to a party during this pandemic is a height of foolishness.”
Charles Terrence of Highland Park seemed to have heard the message loud and clear. He said if he were invited to a party, he would not go, and as to people who do go, he said, “It’s silly.”
But Veronica Wolski said both Mayor Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker only have the right to enforce 30-day stay at home orders. She believes they’re now abusing their power.
“My civil rights are being impinged,” Wolski said. “They’re not allowed to do what they’re doing, and we’re not going to stand for it anymore.”
Mayor Lightfoot those who violate the stay at home order and the prohibition of large gatherings do so at their own peril.
“When you go out and party, when you go home to your mama, your grandma, or anyone in your household who has an underlying medical condition, you are bringing death to their doorstep,” she said. “If you care about them you will stop this foolish, reckless behavior.”
Mayor Lightfoot also noted that 53% of deaths in Chicago are among the African-American population, and 23% are among the Latinx population.
She also emphasized that young people are not immune – saying close to 3,500 COVID-19 patients in Illinois are between 18 and 29.
Lightfoot further said defying the order puts others at risk, especially those over 60 or who have underlying medical conditions. It also puts a strain on healthcare workers, she said.
Continuing to go out for nonessential activities such as parties prolongs the stay-at-home order, the mayor said.
“It’s going to mean that we’re never getting out of this,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “Your actions are going to make a difference whether we get out sooner or later, whether we have a summer or not.”