A year after a gunman cased Grant Park during Lollapalooza before gunning down dozens in Las Vegas, the security for the yearly festival was decidedly heightened. Helicopters flew overhead, gangs of police officers raced through the grounds on bikes and ATVs, men in body armor carrying AR-15s guarded the outside of the Blackstone, the hotel Stephen Paddock rented a room at last year. Despite the anxiety caused by the circumstances, the festival went on without any discernible issues, although that certainly wasn’t the case for the forgotten rest of the city outside the Loop. Elsewhere, shootings engulfed neighborhoods as CPD sent the majority of their officers to deal with crowd control rather than policing neighborhoods where the possibility of death is real and distinct everyday, not just once a year in abstract.
Over the weekend over 100 acts played the stages scattered across Grant Park. During that time, just under 70 people were shot less than five miles radius from the festival. 12 people died from their injuries. To walk past the Perry’s Stage it was obvious most were ignorant to the reality, but for those who find it in front of them daily and without a choice of ignoring it, the violence this weekend was brutal and a symptom of money and selective policing. In a city where the gaps in resources, attention and policing are readily apparent, this weekend provided a clear glimpse into how Chicago works in 2018 under Rahm Emanuel: protect the bag. As long as money is involved, as long as his beloved riverwalk isn’t disrupted, then all is well.
Lollapalooza is a great thing for the city of Chicago, one of the biggest music festivals in the world that attracts hundreds of thousands of people here. But, is it worth the notoriety, tourism and time if we simply don’t have the resources to provide adequate security in and around the fest while also keeping up with those that spend more than a weekend in the city a year, should we keep doing it? One of the biggest issues may be the fact that Lollapalooza organizers, C3, decided two years ago to add a day to the already three-day affair. That has stretched a beleaguered police staff even more thin than they typically are. The police made seven arrests at Lollapalooza this year. Seven. In that time, enough people to fill an entire football team entered city hospitals with gunshot wounds. It’s understood that measures for safety have to be taken, but this weekend the city really showed it’s true colors once again, proving who they do and do not care about.
Their statements following the shootings from the weekend further underlined that sentiment.
“What happened this weekend did not happen in every neighborhood in Chicago, but it is unacceptable to happen in any neighborhood in Chicago. We are a better city,” Emanuel said.