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Organizers Defend 'Trap Warehouse' Event That Was Shut Down By City For COVID-19 Rule Violations

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Trap Warehouse event was supposed to be a party with a purpose - $20 to have drinks, dance, and network.

Instead, Chicago inspectors shut down the warehouse event in the Humboldt Park community, saying it violated COVID-19 codes. On Monday night, promoters told CBS 2's Jermont Terry their event actually helps the city.

A group of artists helped organize the Trap Warehouse. On Eventbrite, they advertised for people to pay $20 and party, perform, and network.

"This was a networking event, not party," one of the artists said.

But the city's Business Affairs and Consumer Protection commissioner considered what went on at the old warehouse a violation of COVID-19 restrictions – and more.

The city shut down the event, which had been slated to run until 4 a.m. Saturday.

"Just got tired of sitting in the house, to be honest," another organizer said, "ant it's also that we're doing it in a safe way."

Yet, the city said despite being in a 5,000 square-foot facility, the warehouse located on Chicago Avenue in the Humboldt Park neighborhood was not up to code and no social distancing was going on.

Organizers deny that claim.

"We had masks for everyone - all 100 attendees," the first organizer said. "We had hand sanitizer. We had ways to accommodate for COVID-19 being a problem."

The city cracked down on that event and others. Over the weekend, the city launched 23 investigations, issued five cease-and-desist orders, and immediately shut down three events for overcrowding – including the one sponsored at the warehouse.

The city claims it is trying to stop large gatherings like we've seen early on in the pandemic – either at homes or venues. But the group insisted it was trying to prevent the same outcome.

"We didn't know we would have all that problems we did," the second organizer said.

Besides the crowds, there was no proper liquor permit.

"We basically rented the space through an app. We thought everything was legit," another organizer said. "We met with the owner and we just found it wasn't."

The city said it is determined to combat businesses and even party promoters who consistently break the COVID-19 restrictions. The city is going to monitor social media platforms and says it is getting plenty of complaints to 311.

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