911 tapes won’t let Memorial Day beach closures rest

June 24, 2011

The Associated Press and City Room

Even after 911 tapes released to the media included calls from people reporting young people fighting and making threats on a popular Chicago beach, police say the decision to close the beach on Memorial Day was tied to the heat and not violence or threats.

In a statement Friday, police reiterated what Superintendent Garry McCarthy has said about the department's unusual decision to close North Avenue Beach.

“The closure of North Avenue beach was unrelated to any activity at Oak Street beach on Memorial Day,” the police said in the statement.

It comes a day after WLS Radio obtained the 911 tapes where people had alleged threats and violence by large groups of young men at Oak Street beach.

The Chicago Tribune obtained 911 tapes from the North Avenue Beach area, which gave no indication of violence, but painted a picture of heavy traffic congestion on the outer drive at North Avenue and alleged one instance of an intoxicated man being on the median of Lake Shore Drive.

Police said they acted because the large crowds made it difficult for emergency workers to get to people suffering from heat-related illnesses on the beach.

In the statement the department said a total of four people were rushed to area hospitals by ambulance, including one person who was in critical condition.