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Humboldt Park Residents Gloat After Riot Fest Pulls Up Stakes For Douglas Park

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The decision to move the popular Riot Fest from Humboldt Park to Douglas Park was cause for celebration, and a warning, from those who didn't want the festival back in their neighborhood.

Humboldt Park neighborhood residents who opposed bringing Riot Fest back to their park this year were doing a little gloating on Friday. About two dozen people gathered near the corner of Division Street and California Avenue.

"This is a citizen victory," said Charlie Billops. "The people of Humboldt Park don't want you back."

Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) had said he did not want Riot Fest back in Humboldt Park this year, citing damage caused by the large crowds and heavy rain last year.

Billops was one of the leaders of the effort to pull the welcome mat from under Riot Fest after last year's festival, because of the damage left behind, and a handful of other reasons.

"One of the comments from one of the citizens was, 'I couldn't use the buses, because they were full.' Uber cabs, they were charging premium rates. The cell phone system was down, because there was so much activity on it," he said.


Others complained about parking during the three-day festival.

Billops said Riot Fest is not the right event for a neighborhood park that became off-limits to neighbors during the festival.

"I think the lesson is simple. We cannot allow big corporations that are making a lot of money to have blanket access to the park," he said.

Gloria Borgas held petitions opposing a return of the festival, containing more than 3,000 signatures from area residents. She said people around Douglas Park should be worried.

"Understand and be aware of the damage that was done here in Humboldt Park, and really look and see whether or not it's actually worth for Riot Fest to be hosted in their community park," Borgas said.

Before Riot Fest organizers agreed to move the event to Douglas Park this year, more than 8,000 people signed an online petition calling for the festival to stay in Humboldt Park.

Ald. George Cardenas (12th) welcomed Riot Fest to Douglas Park with open arms, though he has said he wants organizers to put up a bond to assure there won't be a repeat of unrepaired lawns

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