Chicago police and organizers to beef up planned security for Lunar New Year parades

After two mass shootings in California in recent days, Chicago police and organizers of local Lunar New Year celebrations are taking extra precautions.

The Chicago Police Department will increase security planned for the Lunar New Year parades in Uptown on Saturday and in Chinatown on Sunday.

“Our volunteers, like the police, will be on high alert and very aware of our surroundings,” said Gene Lee, founder of Chicago Chinatown Special Events, which organizes the annual Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown. This weekend will mark the 111th year of the parade.

Lee and other organizers have met with CPD officers and there will be plainclothes officers in the parade, Lee said. Chicago Chinatown Special Events has also hired private security agents, who will work independently.

Organizers will use the parade’s public address system to remind guests to look out for suspicious activity, Lee said.

While CPD declined to provide details, the department said in a statement earlier this week that it will be reaching out to members of the community as planned security increases.

The heightened precautions came after a gunman killed 10 people at a ballroom dance club Saturday night during Lunar New Year celebrations in the predominantly Asian-American city of Monterey Park, on the eastern edge. of the Angels.

In a separate shooting in Half Moon Bay, California, on Monday, a gunman killed seven people and seriously injured another. Some of those victims were also Asian, authorities said.

The Chinatown parade will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday on Wentworth Avenue, heading north from 24th Street to Cermak Road. Before it was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade drew about 20,000 people each year, Lee said. Expect to see the same this year.

In Uptown, 2,000 to 3,000 people are expected to attend Saturday’s Lunar New Year parade, which begins at 1 p.m. at Argyle Street and Winthrop Avenue.

“Of course we are aware of and saddened by the events that have taken place in California,” said Gregg Carroll, director of partnerships and events for Uptown United, which organizes the annual parade. “But I think we feel good about continuing to provide an opportunity for people in our area to celebrate.”

Carroll reached out to business and cultural leaders involved in the parade after the recent shootings in California, he said. So far, everyone still plans to participate, Carroll said. Parade organizers met Tuesday to discuss additional concerns.

Uptown United will not be hiring private security, but is working closely with CPD District 20 and Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) after reaching the city, Carroll said.

Though gloomy and cautious, the residents are determined to keep celebrating.

“Everyone is worried about it, but as most people I’ve talked to feel, life goes on,” Lee said. “I have to go out and buy my groceries. I have to eat in restaurants. I’m going to the parade.