BOYSTOWN — Organizers of the Pride Parade will hire 90 off-duty police officers to assist with crowd control, but neighbors say it might not be enough to quell potential evening mayhem.
After an estimated one million attendees left hundreds of citations and a damaged police cruiser in their wake last summer, city officials vowed to improve conditions or find an alternative location for the parade.
The June 28 parade will remain on the same route, but will hopefully be limited to 2½ hours, while checkpoints along the route will "really limit the amount of public drinking," said Erin Duffy, 44th Ward director of community outreach.
Northalsted Business Alliance will have another 20 private security officers in the area from 3 p.m. until after bar close, the organization said Wednesday.
"We have the ability to up the security so everyone has a good time and also gets home safe," said Chad Honeycutt, Northalsted assistant director of external affairs.
As for the Chicago Police Department, Duffy said there will a "very large police force" to maintain order in the evening hours following the parade. Belmont Avenue will be barricaded, while mounted officers will patrol the area and other officers will be at CTA stations.
But the off-duty officers will be gone around 6 p.m., which left some neighbors concerned.
"You could have the 90 cops come tomorrow, and that would be as helpful as them leaving at six o'clock. The problems happen at night. We support the parade, but in order to keep it here, we need a more effective strategy for protecting neighbors," said East Lakeview resident Patrick Nagle.
Ariel Cheung says neighbors are concerned about post-parade mayhem:
Forcing parade organizer Richard Pfeiffer to pay for officers five hours after his event would be unfair, said East Lake View Neighbors President Jim Spencer. Instead, the additional security will help alleviate the pressure on CPD during the parade to allow for more police officers working at night, he said.
"Basically, this was the best we could get. They basically leaned on the organizers for these 90, and it's kind of impressive they found the money to do it," said Spencer, who was a member of the advisory committee. Spencer voiced his support for keeping the parade in Boystown in the future, citing the business community and LGBTQ history.
Duffy said there would be "double the resources we had last year" cleaning up after the parade. and political entrants would be limited, with the potential to further limit all entrants in years to come.
More specifics will be related in the next couple of weeks, Duffy told East Lake View Neighbors during its Tuesday meeting.
The parade — which began in 1970 to protest police harassment of LGBTQ people — is a vital part of LGBTQ history, particularly in Boystown, said resident Charlotte Newfeld.
"The parade was an offshoot of a political need to alert the community to problems of the GLBT community. The parade is a symbol of that, and you're not going to have the same response downtown," Newfeld said.
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