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Large Groups Of Mostly Teens Are Getting Out Of Hand Downtown, Neighbors Say

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's getting out of hand – that's what people who live downtown say about crowds gathering on weekends.

The Chicago Police Department said hundreds are hanging out for hours. As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported Monday night, the groups are making police very busy and Loop neighbors uneasy.

A dog walk for Chris Ocasio is better done before the sun sets, especially on weekends.

"We don't feel that safe going out at night," he said.

Ocasio lives in the Loop off State Street near Madison Street, where for the second weekend, large groups of mostly teens hung out for hours. But police said they are doing more than just congregating.

"People that are up to no good, this summer at least," Ocasio said.

CPD said it received numerous calls Saturday night about a crowd of 300 people making its way around the Loop from State Street to Michigan Avenue, moving in masses.

"I'd say I'm definitely more concerned because right now. We're not supposed to have large crowds gathering anyway due to COVID. But also, the crowds that are gathering are here for some type of purpose - I'm not plugged into social media with teens as to know what they're up to; if they're here to hang out or here to make trouble," Ocasio said.

It leaves Ocasio and others to reflect on the flash mobs from previous years. Just last April, large groups converged on the Mag Mile and started targeting shoppers and other people.

This past weekend, police told CBS 2 there were complaints of battery, theft, and property damage – and they monitored the group from 8:45 p.m. until nearly 1 a.m., when tactical officers finally dispersed the groups onto the Chicago Transit Authority Red Line.

"We have enough problems on the Red Line already, so if the cops are pushing them into the Red Line, that's making it worse," Ocasio said.

The CPD is trying to keep large crowds moving. But with so much uncertainty, it is leaving those who call downtown home uneasy.

"In my opinion, they need to be out on foot," Ocasio said of police. "I see them cruising in their patrols very often."

Police said they have a tactical team follow the large crowds, because they are fully aware of what can happen if such crowds go unmonitored. As for this weekend, police said they did not make any arrests connected with the crowd.

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