Chicago Police Guard Trump Tower, Close Streets During Mexican Independence Day Celebrations

Police in Chicago guarded Trump Tower and closed major streets as hundreds of cars drove through the city to celebrate Mexican Independence Day.

Hundreds of cars had driven through the historically Mexican American neighborhood of Little Village on Tuesday night, ahead of Mexico's Independence Day on September 16.

Officials blocked off several streets in the downtown area, citing traffic from the celebrations, and closures extended into the Little Village neighborhood. But numerous vehicles still managed to make it to Michigan Avenue despite the street closures.

"Though most major roads are blocked downtown Chicago, many found a way to Michigan Ave tonight for the annual cruising as a celebration of the upcoming Mexican Independence Day on Sept 16," Laura Rodríguez Presa, a Chicago Tribune reporter, tweeted alongside a video showing a caravan of cars tooting horns and waving Mexican flags.

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She added that police officers were surrounding the Trump Tower in downtown Chicago and blocking most streets leading to Michigan Avenue.

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According to Presa, the police department had blocked major intersections in Mexican American neighborhoods during the celebrations last year, prompting many to go downtown "as a sign of protest."

She added: "This year people began driving around since Saturday. Right now, police are surrounding the Trump tower & blocking most streets leading to Michigan Ave."

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) tweeted that the closures were in the area of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. No other information about the closures was released by officials.

Hector Alfaro, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, confirmed to Newsweek that some streets were closed in the downtown area "due to heavy traffic" from the Mexican Independence Day celebrations.

As of early Wednesday, he said the department was not aware of any closures still in place.

Tyler LaRiviere, a photographer with The Chicago Sun-Times, tweeted that although bridges weren't raised, police restricted travel in the downtown area.

Chicago police blocked all southbound traffic on Michigan Avenue at Ohio Street as car caravans took to the streets, he wrote. Almost all exits into the downtown area from Lake Shore Drive were also shut down, LaRiviere added.

"The bridges are not raised but travel around the downtown area including the Loop and Gold Coast areas are limited. Police are blocking all traffic they can and attempting to move the massive caravan of revelers away from the downtown area," he said in another tweet.

Carlos Ballesteros, a reporter with Injustice Watch, said on Twitter that police closing streets "to stop Mexicans from celebrating Mexico's Independence Day is disrespectful as hell."

He added that there had been no warning about the closures from Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

"More than 600,000 Mexicans and Mexican-Americans call this city home," he wrote.

"No conversation, no warning from @chicagosmayor. Just order the police to close the streets to stop the community from celebrating and that's that? Since when is it okay to actively stop Chicago's largest ethnic community from celebrating its motherland?"

Lifelong Little Village resident Edgar Hernandez told the Sun-Times that it was the first time he had seen police block off streets during the annual car caravans celebrating Mexican Independence Day.

"We do this every year—it's like a tradition—we go downtown, meet up on Pulaski or wherever you meet up, and then everyone just leaves," Hernandez said.

Mayor Lightfoot's office has been contacted for comment.

Trump Tower
Chicago Police park across the Chicago River from Trump Tower after widespread looting broke out early Monday in the city on August 12, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images
Chicago Police Guard Trump Tower, Close Streets During Mexican Independence Day Celebrations | U.S.