City blocks streets into downtown for 4th night as car caravans celebrate Mexican Independence Day

 chicago.suntimes.com  09/17/2020 04:25:22 

Traffic into downtown is at a standstill as the city has blocked streets for the fourth straight night amid car caravans celebrating Mexican Independence Day.

The Office of Emergency Management tweeted Wednesday night that various street closures remain in effect in the downtown area, but noted that Lake Shore Drive remains open. However, a Sun-Times photographer downtown saw Lake Shore Drive in total gridlock near Buckingham Fountain late Wednesday, with people out of their cars and celebrating in the roadway.

NotifyChicago: Traffic disruption update, various street closures remain in effect in the downtown area. Lake Shore Dr remains open. Seek alternate route.

 Chicago OEMC (@ChicagoOEMC) September 17, 2020

Officers blocked access to the bridges in downtown, allowing only some motorists through. They also blocked access to Michigan Avenue from Wacker Drive.

In a statement, OEMC spokesperson Mary May said that rolling street closures were standard practice for large caravans of cars, to ensure public safety and prevent traffic congestion.

However, May also noted that police received intelligence regarding possible disrupters who sought to hijack the integrity of Mexican Independence Day celebrations and caravans.

As a result, OEMC enacted additional short-term street closures in various neighborhoods as part of the Citys all-hands-on-deck efforts to provide safety to Chicagos communities and the businesses that serve and employ them, May said.

Chicago police did not immediately provide any additional details about the closures, but said they had not received reports of any disrupters Wednesday evening.

The city has been blocking streets around downtown and Little Village since Sunday night, when car caravans began roaming the city in lieu of the annual Mexican Independence Day parade, which was slated for Saturday but canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Carlos Sanchez was in one of the few cars downtown with a Mexican flag sticking out of the window. He said he had to fake being white to get through the police barricade. Him and his friend hid his flag and played Taylor Swift.

We didnt show any pride or anything, Sanchez said. Theres no one here as you can tell, were one of the only ones here.

Sanchez, 19, said he was in a group chat with 1,300 people. They planned to park their cars on State Street and play music.

Were about to leave because nobody else could get through, Sanchez said after taking a picture with a police barricade in the background.

Around 100 people dance and party on Lake Shore Drive near Buckingham Fountain, as hundreds celebrate Mexicos Independence Day, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020.

Edgar Hernandez, a lifelong Little Village resident, said Tuesday this is the first year hes seen police block off streets for the car caravans.

We do this every year  its like a tradition  we go downtown, meet up on Pulaski or wherever you meet up, and then everyone just leaves, Hernandez said. Were just cruising, I dont feel like were up to no good. Were just literally cruising, beeping, Viva Mexico, and thats it.

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