CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson took issue with a reporter who referred to a crowd of disorderly teens who created chaos and vandalized a 7-Eleven store last weekend as a “mob.”
According to WLS, on Wednesday, Johnson was fielding questions from reporters after a “teen takeover” in the South Loop over the weekend. The teens then looted the store at 560 W. Grenshaw Street, resulting in 40 arrests of people aged 12-20.
An estimated 300-400 people were involved, Fox News reported.
“It was just a few kids, and then it got thicker and thicker and thicker, and then they kept coming and coming, and kept coming,” a witness, Alvin Jackson, said. “Throwing bottles, jumping on people’s cars, trying to start fights, and trying to run into stores and stuff like that.”
Store owner Jonathan Nowak told WLS “The teen mobs is something that seriously needs to be taken seriously, and I would love to talk to him about, because I don’t think there’s nothing being done yet.”
When a reporter characterized the incident, which happened Sunday night near Roosevelt Road and Canal Street, as “mob action,” Johnson pushed back.
“That’s not appropriate. We’re not talking about mob actions … It’s important that we speak of these dynamics in an appropriate way. This is not to obfuscate what has taken place,” he said.
“We have to be careful when we use language to describe certain behavior,” he continued. “There’s history in this city. I mean, to refer to children as like baby Al Capones is not appropriate.”
However, “mob action” is a legal term in Illinois law, referring to “the knowing or reckless use of force or violence, disturbing the peace by 2 or more persons acting together and without the authority of law.”
Johnson referred to the incident as a “large gathering.”
“To the best of their ability, I believe that [Chicago police officers] attempted to engage with our young people, with community partners – giving as much warning as they possibly could,” Johnson said. “And you know, unfortunately, arrests were made. Unfortunately, some damage was caused. And the level of sensitivity and patience that our officers expressed, I’m appreciative of that.”
“Teen takeovers” are events in which young adults take over a public street and engage in disorderly conduct.
Three people were shot and 15 were arrested after unruly teens terrorized downtown Chicago streets in April. Hundreds of teens smashed cars, blocked traffic, and fought in the streets.
Illinois Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) later described the chaos as “a political act and statement” and “a mass protest against poverty and segregation.”