After series of lakefront assaults, alderman calls for increased police presence

CHICAGO — Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly is calling for more police patrols downtown and along the lakefront after a series of attacks.

The latest happened Thursday night in the Streeterville community.

People walking along the lakefront were pushed into the water by a group of teenagers.

Police said about 10 teens began surrounding people and forcing them into the lake.

Similar incidents happened over Memorial Day weekend.

Reilly said he believes the disturbances are meant to distract authorities so that the teens can carry out retail thefts.

"These kids are organizing on social media," Reilly said, "and it's not just to get together to come downtown and have fun. The purpose is to cause mayhem."

In one case, a group damaged a South Loop Target. In another, police attempted to corral teens near Water Tower Place onto red line trains to get them out of Downtown.

Chicago Police Department First Deputy Supt. Anthony Riccio said the focus is on getting large groups out of the area and providing an opportunity to go back home.

"When you have large groups like this," Riccio said, "to arrest a large group is going to tie up a ton of resources and to what end."

Over Memorial Day weekend, the police department put 1,000 extra officers on patrol. One hundred of those officers were part of a summer mobile force focused on the lakefront.

"We're managing a couple hundred thousand people on the beaches Downtown every weekend," Reilly said, "and we have about 150 cops doing that. We appreciate the resources we're getting dedicated to us by Supt. Johnson, but we need to really accelerate that and double down early."