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Pride Parade Moving Downtown? Ald. Tunney Open To 'Changes'

By DNAinfo Staff on June 30, 2014 9:58pm

 Ald. Tom Tunney told CBS he would be open to moving the parade Downtown.
Ald. Tom Tunney told CBS he would be open to moving the parade Downtown.
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CHICAGO — With more than 1 million people flooding the streets of Lakeview for the Pride parade this year and last, Ald. Tom Tunney is open to taking the celebration to a bigger venue: Downtown.

Though police said there were only eight arrests at Sunday's parade, Tunney told CBS that Lakeview residents were upset about drunken revelers.

“If there is an option to go Downtown, will that make the conduct of the fans more reasonable? I’m not afraid to look at it," he told the station. 

Erin Duffy, a spokeswoman for Tunney, told DNAinfo the top complaints the alderman has heard from residents include trash, late-night partying and drinking.

"We get feedback from residents, and we've heard about some of the late-night, post-parade activity," Duffy said. "He's just looking at possible changes for next year, and that may include moving the parade. That's not a decision that will be made immediately"

Police said "there were only a handful of issues" at the parade — including criminal damage to a squad car. But three people were shot in or near the neighborhood just hours after parade floats were packed up. A neighborhood crime blog claims there were actually more than 30 arrests made at or near the parade.

About 6 p.m. Sunday near Montrose Beach, two women were shot following an argument. About 2 a.m. Monday, a man was shot outside of a liquor store near Belmont and Sheffield. Police said the victim was an admitted gang member from the Irving Park neighborhood.

Though authorities did not link any of the shootings to the Pride parade, Tunney told CBS "residents don't feel safe in their neighborhood."

"Safety is my ongoing number one [sic] concern for our Ward," Tunney wrote in a Facebook post about the Belmont shooting. "The problems that came with the post-parade late-night crowd will be addressed as we continue to examine the parade route and evaluate all options for next year."

But Maureen Martino, executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, said crime along Belmont Avenue was a problem long before Sunday's parade.

"Belmont and Sheffield has been a hot spot for crime for the past several years," she said.

"A lot of the stuff that happened [this weekend] had nothing to do with the parade and parade spectators. ... When you have a big event like the Pride parade, all the activities that normally go on in a district come to the forefront because everyone's paying attention."

Martino said she'd love to "keep the parde in the district where it was born" and, instead, take a hard look at crime trends along Belmont, particuarly near the CTA station.

She said trying to address crime rates year-round would be of better use to the neighborhood than simply moving the parade.

The idea of taking things Downtown isn't a new one, former Human Rights Campaign organizer Curtis Bumgarner-Cookson told Chicago Phoenix.

“Now that Chicago’s parade attracts over a million people, it only makes sense that Boystown no longer can contain it," Bumgarner-Cookson told the site. "Michigan Avenue or Columbus Drive would be better venue choices as they give the LGBT community more exposure, and are more centrally located and accessible."

Tunney's office will talk with various city departments, local chambers of commerce and community groups over the next few months to work out safety and parade logistics, Duffy said.

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